Archive for 9-11

My 9-11. . .

Posted in Misc with tags , , , , , on Thursday, September 11, 2008 by drumsalot
Me in 1999

Me During A Fire Safety Presentation – 1997

Teaching Fire Safety In 1997 - I'm The One On The Right

Teaching Fire Safety In 1997 – I’m The One On The Right

Seven Years ago right now I was sitting on the couch in the lounge at work, wondering if what I had just seen was real. I was working at DePaul Community Services as a residential counselor. I worked 7:30 – 3:30 on Tuesdays, and this particular Tuesday got to work around 7:10. All was normal at work, and I distinctly

The impact of Flight 11

The opposte side of the impact of Flight 11 on the North Tower

remember looking up at the sky right before opening the door to the house I worked at and taking note of how peaceful and quiet it was, and what a beautiful day it was becoming. I was exhausted, having returned from a trip to Long Island to visit my grandmother around 3:30 that morning, the trip taking longer than normal because I stopped in Manhattan to see the sights, and had gone to the observation decks of both the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center’s south tower. Around 8:15 we started our daily staff meeting, and wrapped up around 8:40. I turned on the radio in the staff office to hear the morning talk shows and to give a little background noise as I started what seemed to be never ending paperwork following a 12 work day vacation. At 8:46, flight 11 hit the north tower. Just a few minutes later the show I was listening to was interrupted to announce an “aircraft collision in NYC.” It was a slow morning, and all but 2 of our 15 clients had gone to group sessions at another facility, so the staff gathered in the lounge and turned on the TV. We watched it all unfold and quietly speculated as to how something like this could happen, never saying what we feared the most: that this wasn’t an accident. At 9:03, flight 175 hit the south tower.

Flight 175 Hits The WTC South Tower

Flight 175 Hits The South Tower

Watching coverage of this on CNN, we all witnessed the crash. The plane hit about 22 floors below where I had been standing just 18 hours earlier, on the 107th floor observation deck. We watched for hours, seeing the aftermath of flight 77 hitting the Pentagon at 9:37, and watching as the WTC south tower collapsed at 9:59, flight 93 crashed in Shanksville PA at10:06, and the WTC north tower collapsed at 10:28.

4 days later, I headed to Ground Zero. I had been an EMT/Firefighter for 5 years at that point and a Tactical EMT-I for 1 1/2 years. I knew that with the loss of so many of New York’s emergency personnel help would be needed. I stowed a few sets of BDU’s, some comfortable clothes for the ride back, my turnout gear, and my tac gear, and headed to New York with a crew from an ambulance I had previously worked for.

I didn’t know it when I arrived, but a couple of firefighters I had the honor of meeting and spending about a half hour talking with on a previous trip to Manhattan had been killed in the collapses. They were stationed at the Tenhouse, or Station Ten, located literally feet from the base of the north tower. The Tenhouse lost 6 men that day. The station itself was severely damaged, and both units, Engine and Truck (ladder) 10 were destroyed. From the short time I spent with them, I consider them friends and will never forget the sacrifice they made along with 343 of our brothers.

I stayed in NYC for several days at ground zero, assisting however I could. I stood for hours in bucket lines, I assisted a search and rescue officer and his dog in lifting debris, I helped Red Cross workers distribute food and water, I stood quietly paying respects when remains were found, and watched as the entire scene fell silent as they were carefully and reverently carried to waiting vehicles. I saw things that will never leave me, and felt things I never want to feel again. To this day, floodlights at highway construction sites remind me in an amazingly strong and sometimes eerie way of those days and nights I spent there. I returned after a few weeks home with the ambulance company I previously worked with, and we ran emergency calls in Manhattan for 5 days to help cover for the manpower that was absorbed by the effort at the WTC.

I never fired a shot, but according to President Bush, I was among the first soldiers of this war. I have had occasional nightmares and certain smells and sights and sounds set me on alert to this day, but I would go back a thousand times and do the same thing to serve my country and help my fellow man. I was among the fortunate that responded to Ground Zero. I experienced only minor respiratory issues, which cleared up after a couple of days. I made it out of there physically unscathed, something too many of my FDNY brothers cannot say.

I don’t tell my story for any recognition, I don’t want any. I have told it to very few people outside my family, perhaps only a dozen. I tell this story largely in an attempt to chase the nightmares and the haunting memories away. . . I did what I did because I had to. I did what I did because I love my country. I did what I did because I love my freedom. I’m not a soldier, but I am a citizen, and I will not relent in my defense and service of this country. God Bless America.