C.A.L.M. is the initials of Center for Alternative Living Medicine. It is the gathering’s first aid center and infirmary. It was originally called MASH, after the TV show about a mobile army surgical hospital, but many didn’t think a term with military origins was appropriate for a peace and love gathering, so it was changed in the late 80s to CALM.

Go in there and you will find cots to lie down on and a table with bandages and containers of antiseptics laid out all over it, and a set of shelves with bottles full of herbal tinctures with droppers in their lids. Several people with MD degrees have regularly helped out, along with nurses and nurse practitioners, but medical training is not necessary to plug in, as there are as many firewood, water, and cleaning chores as in a kitchen. They often maintain a rudimentary kitchen for their staff and patients, but it does not serve the public as a regular one.

Commonly treated ailments are headaches, foot problems, cuts and scrapes to the skin, heatstroke, poison ivy, digestive system upsets, flu, and colds. If something arises that needs hospital care, they can summon ambulances or transport patients with their own personally owned vehicles. They also spend a lot of time with people undergoing bad trips or other adverse reactions to recreational drugs. At the 1997 annual in Oregon, they had to deal with several people who ate a local plant called false hellebore after being told it would make them high, but which really produced violent psychotic reactions.

At the 2006 annual in Colorado, Forest Service LEOs went on a campaign to take out by arrest or intimidation the “leaders of the Rainbow”, with the apparent intention that the gathering would disintegrate when these people were removed. As part of this they did a raid on CALM where they illegally searched the tent of Jane Lightwaryr, a nurse practitioner, and when they found her emergency medical stash they tried to charge her with illegal possession of drugs. Stone, an emergency medical technician, was ticketed while on a run to town with some local EMTs and they were all ticketed for interfering with law enforcement. Stone was also cited for group camping without a permit. All of Jane’s medications were for life threatening situations and as a legal prescriber she was able to present the proper paperwork when she went to court. Stone was found guilty of the interfering but not the camping, since they ticketed him outside the gathering.

September 14th, 2016 by John Anderson