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Massage Today
April, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 04

We Get Letters & E-Mail

In Defense of AMTA-MERT

Dear Editor,

This is in reply to Karen E. Murray's letter to the editor in the December 2001 issue of Massage Today. I was privileged to work at ground zero as a Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT) responder, and felt compelled to write.

(Editor's note: The complete text of Ms. Murray's letter was included in our "Helping Hands: More Stories from the Relief Efforts" article, available on line at

After my experiences as a MERT member, I would be reluctant to respond to a disaster in any other way. As a trained responder, I know how to work at a disaster site without becoming part of the problem. A strict chain of command must be followed to keep everyone safe. There are considerations when working on rescue personnel in a disaster situation that are very different from the caring for the people we see in our everyday practices, and therapists need to be aware of these considerations to keep the rescuers safe. Insurance is another important consideration when going into a dangerous environment to work, even if you are volunteering your services.

Would you consider approaching the FBI and offering to assist in its investigation, then be insulted when you were turned away? Even if you were a former FBI agent, or had training in investigation techniques, you would be politely (or not so politely) dismissed. The FBI doesn't take people who show up with claims of experience, and a reasonable person would not even expect it. Neither does MERT. An organization must protect itself and those for whom it is responsible. That is why structure is in place to prevent major problems. You were likely asked if you were an AMTA member because training sessions were set up to train as many responders as possible.

You would have been invited to apply. There are considerations as to where one gets one's liability insurance, besides a few extra dollars in cost. Consider that now, and you will be ready to respond the next time (hopefully never!) something horrible happens.

As far as the perceived curtness of the person you spoke to, I can tell you firsthand that everyone involved in MERT deserves praise, not criticism. We got very little sleep, coughed for days or weeks after each trip, and sacrificed hundreds to thousands of dollars in lost income. The organizers worked almost around the clock, and of course, a few mistakes were made. They did an amazing job with the impossible task of keeping track of their own. It is just too much to expect them to keep track of everyone else.

Your heart was in the right place, but no one can just walk into a federal crime scene because they have a generous spirit. That is just reality. I am glad that there were massage therapists working in the area around ground zero, taking care of those that did not have ground zero access. I also am extremely grateful to AMTA's MERT, and the opportunity to safely attend to the needs of the many men and women who barely left ground zero for days or weeks in September and October. It was a life-changing experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Monique Trahan, LMT
Southwick, Massachusetts

"Another venue for people of diverse backgrounds to communicate ideas"

Dear Editor:

Hi, I'm a state-registered, nationally certified massage therapist from Wisconsin. I'm also a member of the AMTA. I'm a little behind the times, but I'm just passing on my opinion of Massage Today.

I like the paper. I don't read all of the columns, but I read most of them. I like the idea that there is another venue for people of diverse backgrounds to communicate ideas to each other. I like the idea that this paper "hits." I like that it receives contributions by professionals who are members of various massage trade organizations; professionals who don't belong to any massage organization; and even members of different health care professions.

I look forward to future editions!

Susan Klumb
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"I encourage others to learn this marvelous art..."

Dear Editor:

My name is Dorothy Montrose, but my friends call me "Dee Dee." In 1993, I received my massage training in Palm Desert, California, under the direction of Ramona Moody French and her staff at Desert Resort School of Somatherapy. I have been self-employed in the field of massage therapy since that time.

I enjoy my work and am very grateful to Janice, the first therapist I received a massage from when I lay paralyzed in the hospital. (I broke my neck in a severe auto accident in 1986 and was told I would be a quadriplegic the rest of my life. Janice didn't give up on me, and I am 98% recovered today). I believe I owe it to the massage profession to give back as much as I can.

Massage therapy gave me hope and courage to keep trying after the doctors had given up on me! I am devoted to my profession and encourage others to learn this marvelous art of alternative medical care.

Dorothy Montrose
Hemet, CA


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