NATO Wellness Center opens its doors to treat protesters

May 15, 2012

By Quinn Ford

NATO protesters now have a place to go for anything from a bandage to a back rub.

The NATO Wellness Center, located at 637 S. Dearborn St., opened its doors on Monday. Spokespeople said the wellness center will be open to treat protesters up to and throughout the NATO summit.

The wellness center is sponsored and operated by Chicago Action Medical, an organization consisting of lay people and some medical professionals.

Scott Mechanic, an organizer with Chicago Action Medical, said the wellness center will offer typical first aid as well as holistic medicine.

"Some of the services he have lined up already include herbalists, acupuncturists and traditional Chinese medical providers," Mechanic said. "We have body workers, massage therapists, talk therapists, [and] crisis intervention workers."

Mechanic said there are around 35 volunteers to operate the center. He said volunteers are expecting to treat  "the kinds of things you expect to see at any large gathering" like sprained ankles, dehydration and people with preexisting medical conditions.

Chicago Action Medical will also provide street medics and first aid tents at NATO protest events. Mechanic said the organization has conducted two 20-hour training sessions over the last few months to prepare volunteers for what they might encounter during the summit.

"We're prepared for wide-scale police violence even though that's not what we're expecting to see in Chicago," Mechanic said.

He said the wellness center, which is open until May 21st, will be open to anyone who wants to come in, but he said supporting protesters is the reason the center exists.