Integrative Healers Action Network (Part 1)

No one understands the impact of flash floods or lethal wildfires more than first responders; the firefighters, the paramedics, and the police who put their own lives on the line to help citizens escape from danger. So how can integrative practitioners support their work and what can we do to make that job easier?

Today, in part one of a two-part series, Nutramedica is considering how integrative health practitioners can assist with climate crisis management, and in particular, how they can render aid to the first responders and evacuees caught up in fire or flood crisis situations.

Dr Jen Riegle ND is the co-founder of the Integrative Healers Action Network, or IHAN, which was established in 2017 during the Sonoma County wildfires in California. Through IHAN, Dr Riegel and Jenny Harrow, colleagues at a Santa Rosa based clinic, began organizing health practitioners to provide support to evacuees and first responders.

Today Dr Riegel is discussing the function, history and growth of IHAN.


Key Take-Aways


What is IHAN? 
IHAN provides the structure and support needed for health practitioners to provide safe, effective and vital care to first responders and evacuees during and after major-climate related disasters in California and beyond. 

While most of us watch climate disasters from the comfort of our living room, IHAN mobilizes health practitioners to assist directly at the site of a climate crisis. 

What were the drivers creating IHAN?
Dr Riegle lost her own home to a wildfire at age 12, so she has first-hand experience of the devastation of the climate crisis. Her appreciation of how her community supported her family in that time of difficulty motivated her desire to organize a group in support of future climate crisis occurrences. On top of that, both of her parents were career wildland firefighters.\

How does IHAN help?
IHAN contributes by combining the skill sets of integrative practitioners with the very real needs of first responders and evacuees. Important gaps exist in our current health system and as a result a holistic response to the trauma that climate crisis evacuees experience is required.

 Post-traumatic support, environmental medicine and detoxification are just two of the immediate needs supported by IHAN practitioners on scene.

We now understand that a somatic approach, “body-oriented” approach to acute trauma is often a lot more beneficial than regular medical services alone.

Fires create a toxic environment, from smoke inhalation to toxins released by burning plastic. In the case of floods, dirt and other debris can enter the body.

In an acute setting, practitioners support the lungs with herbs and other supplements, while acupuncturists find pressure points to open up the airways and remove toxins.

IHAN runs clinics for first responders, including firefighters, to help them detoxify. 

How does IHAN engage in the field?
IHAN volunteers are onboarded and trained year round. When a disaster happens, IHAN is often provided with space inside shelters in partnership with the Red Cross.

Then, depending on where the base camp is set up for first responders, IHAN is on scene. Once in a while, an IHAN response team will go directly to firehouses.

How is IHAN funded?
IHAN works with a variety of funders and sponsors. Companies provide both money and products for administration to patients. IHAN also receives grants from sources including the American Red Cross.  


Key Quote  

“I always ask practitioners, do you treat insomnia? Do you treat GI complaints? Do you treat anxiety in your practice? If you do, you can adapt those skills to what we're doing. “ 

“If you come with your good skill set as a practitioner, we will train you to respond. All of those things are part of our training.”

Dr Jen Riegle ND



The opinions expressed in this Nutramedica program are those of the guests and contributors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Nutritional Fundamentals For Health Inc.

This video is intended for licensed or registered health professionals and students of health professions only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information contained in these programs are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.