BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Cynthia Kirk and Sarah Sanford, both 2004 graduates of the Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Northwestern Health Sciences University, are members of the Minnesota chapter of Emergency Response Massage International (MERMI). The group was honored for their service to police officers during the Republican National Convention (RNC) held in St. Paul, Minn. in September of 2008. Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan presented the group with the Chief’s Award of Merit at a ceremony at Minneapolis City Hall on July 20, 2009. Other citizens and police officers were also recognized at the ceremony.

MERMI was recommended for the award by Sergeant Steve Wickelgren, coordinator of the Minneapolis Police Assistance Program. According to Wickelgren, eight volunteers from MERMI provided around 350 chair massages during the nine days of the RNC.

Emergency Response Massage International (ERMI), is a non-profit, volunteer organization of massage therapists that provide stress-reducing chair massage to Emergency Responders following disasters and critical incidents. The Minnesota chapter of ERMI was started in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Kirk and Sanford became involved with MERMI at that time.

Northwestern Health Sciences University offers a wide array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and human biology. The University has nearly 900 students on a 25-acre campus in Bloomington, Minnesota.