So I'm a Wisconsin resident (have been my whole life), a voter, a taxpayer, and a union member. I'm a member of UFCW local 1444.
It cannot have escaped your notice that collective bargaining is under attack in Wisconsin. As a union member, a liberal, and a working-class dude I'm enormously opposed to the union busting bill before our state government. But this post isn't about that.
It's about the danger of alternative medicine, believe it or not.
One of the parts of the protests here is that a large group of people have been occupying the Capitol building for 11 days now. Not everyone has been staying the whole time, but there has always been at least a few hundred people at all times. During the day thousands of people come to the capitol, and last weekend between 60 and 100 thousand people showed up (the reports vary based on the bias of the media in question). I expect tomorrow (Saturday Feb 26th) to be similar.
So as the occupation of the capitol continues, some infrastructure is being set up. With the exception of security this infrastructure is built completely by those participating in the protests. Generally this works out pretty well - the food area is stocked sort of randomly, but people are getting fed. The family/childrens area and parental respite zone seem to be working out fine as far as I can tell. The groups organizing peaceful protest workshops/discussions are VERY well trained and are doing a great job.
But... the medics. See, when you have a crowd this big, and especially in a situation that could potentially become suddenly dangerous, you need to have a good, organized medical squad. It should be comprised of people with official first aid training, and ideally EMTs, nurses, and doctors if possible. They should have the knowledge to deal with minor problems, and also serious injuries. Gunshot wounds, serious falls, and other injuries are all real (but unlikely) possibilities in this kind of situation. They should have, or at least be seeking, the equipment necessary to deal with a serious injury, and communication systems to get in touch with the needed support as fast as possible.
Instead, the medical area is staffed by herbalists, accupressureists, and massage therapists. I'm not kidding. I have a Red Cross Heartsaver certification up to date, and my first aid skills are pretty good. But after an hour and a half of sitting with these folks in their "organization" meeting, I gave up. They did have one retired licensed practical nurse in the group, and one person with a current wilderness first responder certification, so that's much better than nothing - but this group of 11 could not find their ass with both hands in terms of organization techniques. After that hour and half of trying to get to the point of actually organizing anything, I gave up, told them this wasn't the mission I was looking for, and I wished them luck and left.
The thing is, the massage, accupressure, and similar alt-med stuff is probably useful for helping people calm down and decrease the stress of being in a situation like this occupation. It probably helps for the headaches that come with listening to people yell all day, and the muscle pain that accompanies being on your feet carrying a sign for long periods of time. Not because alt-med works, but because anything that gets you sitting, calm, and focused on something other than the politics for awhile is good for bringing the stress level down. But for emergency situations and real medical situations, this stuff is absolutely useless.
Luckily this protest is taking place in the middle of a city, close to 3 hospitals, and in the presence of dozens of police officers with good communications systems. Otherwise, this situation would worry me a lot more. And if a real situation comes up, I hope someone with real first aid training will take over.