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Volunteering with Acupuncturists Without Borders: Parkland Shooting Tragedy

I am an Acupuncture Physician who practices in Florida.  The first time I volunteered with Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) was in 2010 and really learned a lot and enjoyed my volunteer experience. On February 14, 2018, my community was affected by the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL which needlessly took the lives of 17 people.  The day after, I took to Facebook to see if any of my local friends wanted to band together to start offering treatments in the area. Once I had a group of volunteers together, I contacted AWB to help coordinate our efforts. By that weekend we had our first clinic up and running and offered treatments every Saturday and Sunday for the next month.  We were able to get a beautiful local farm about 2 miles from the school to donate their space for our clinics. We felt that the animals and beautiful weather also contributed the group healing efforts.

We used the NADA protocol with five points in each ear to treat students, parents, school faculty, and community members who just could not wrap their heads around what just happened.  The group that seemed to benefit the most from our treatments were the parents of students. The students while in shock banded together and seemed to have a slightly better handle on coping.  The parents were hanging onto the fear of, or reality of losing a child. The fear of even letting them go to school was too much for many of them to process.

One woman I met just could not stop crying.  She came back to us with hugs and kisses to tell us that our treatment was the only thing that helped her.   She even claims that acupuncture saved her marriage because the tension was so high at home during this stressful time.  Getting to help people like her is one of the many reasons I do what I do.

Another person we treated was not a student or parent.  This gentleman happened to be driving past the school right as the event was happening.   The street was blocked off and he was stuck. He saw students fleeing the building, he heard the screams, the cries and so much more.  He was clearly in shock after witnessing so much. He had been driving down the street and saw the sign for our clinic. He knew nothing about us, acupuncture or why we were there but just figured he would stop and see what it was all about. He had told us that since the shooting he could not put together a coherent thought or figure out what he should be doing at any given time. He shared with us that after the treatment, he could process his thoughts more clearly.

We were able to treat about 120-150 people in our time in the Parkland area.  AWB cannot reach everyone, but even if we can make a difference in at least one person’s life then it was successful in my opinion.   Helping with this disaster in my own community also helped me and the other local volunteers cope with our own sadness, grief, and pain.  Receiving hugs and kisses from patients and to know this made an impact was very rewarding.

We are grateful for the donation of supplies we received from Lhasa OMS which gave us the tools we needed to treat all of these people so desperately in need.


AWB is committed to collaborating with local community-based organizations and treating all who have been affected by traumatic events – survivors, first responders, emergency personnel and other care providers. We offer services and training in local communities with the goal of creating long-term, sustainable benefits after we leave. Our intention is to empower each community we serve in a way that best supports their particular needs for rebuilding and recovery.

Unfortunately, with these types of disasters, both human-made and naturally occurring, more and more frequently, AWB needs your help!   

In 2017, AWB provided thousands of treatments in Texas, Florida, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, and California communities devastated by hurricanes, floods, and fires. In 2018, we have responded to the shooting in Parkland, FL the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico and will likely be called upon to coordinate similar disaster relief efforts in the United States and internationally. Please help us rebuild our Disaster Ready Fund so that we are prepared to respond!

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