Clad in their trademark yellow shirts with the “Volunteer Minister” emblem, the disaster response team of the Church of Scientology starting arriving just hours after the first World Trade Center Tower went down. According to the NY Times, they were one of most well-organized, and most evident volunteer groups at the scene of the 9/11 disaster.
In the first few days, the Ministers dug in the rubble, distributed food, and brought cold drinks to the first responders at the World Trade Center. They organized supplies of clean masks, replacement boots and hardhats. But they brought something unique to the site: a kind of spiritual first-aid, in the form of assists techniques created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to help an individual recover more rapidly from fatigue, trauma, and injury.
“What we had to offer was crucial: the first responders’ ability to continue their search for anyone who might still be alive,” said Rev. John Carmichael, President of the Church of Scientology of New York. “We were able to help them remain alert and aware, even when the magnitude of the disaster was overwhelming. They told us, in person, in letters, and even years later, how much it meant to them to have that assistance when they needed it.”
The techniques, says Rev. Carmichael, can be as simple as directing the attention of the individual to objects in his environment, one after another, until he is able to pay attention easily to his physical surroundings. Others are a bit more complicated, but all can be learned by anyone, of any faith, from materials in the Volunteer Minister handbook.