I was in EMS for 22 years before retiring due to a back injury. One of my most memorable experiences was responding to New York City as a Paramedic in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I will never forget that experience. What I saw and did are still with me, as is a type of asthma from breathing the dust. My Experience as a Paramedic on 9-11-01
We lost over 3,000 American's that day, including 8 EMS Providers, 60 Police Officers and 343 Firefighters in NYC.
Since that day, 200 FDNY Firefighters have died from 9/11 related illnesses, and hundreds of others are sick, including EMS, PD and civilians. There is a new area at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in NYC for these individuals who are sick.
As time passes, people seem to forget what happened and the toll it has taken. We need to make sure we never forget and educate our children about what happened. Talk to them about it, tell them how you felt and what the experience was. Take them to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in NYC. It is an amazing, somber experience going there. My 6 year old daughter has been to ground zero and the park, but not into the museum. That will come later.
I still vividly remember where I was (at Sikorsky Aircraft) when it happened, responding down there as a paramedic, the sights, the smells, the people. I was at Ground Zero for the last part of my shift down there on 9/12. It was sobering to see the pile, knowing there were people in there.
As the years have gone by, we have lost first responders to 9/11 related diseases, many struggle with PTSD or other medical issues. The current generation doesn't know this as anything but history. The worst part for many of us was not being able to save people and the many days and weeks hoping against all odds that we would find people alive.
9/11 still haunts me to this day, as it does most of us who responded. But we persevere and move on, not letting the terrorists win.
As the years have gone by, I've noticed that people are not remembering this terrible event like they did the first few years after. I know that my EMS, Fire and Police colleagues all do, as do the brave men and women of our armed forces who fight every day against terrorism.
I've also noticed less being done in schools lately. Most of today's students weren't even born when 9/11 occurred. Please teach them about it (facts only please) and make sure they understand what it means. I will be speaking at the school my wife teaches at, a Military and First Responder high school, this morning to share my experiences with them.
This photo was taken on 9/10/07 showing a rainbow leading right to the WTC site and the Freedom Tower!
United We Stood, United We Stand
Today is a day Americans will never forget.
It is a day of remembrance, a day of reflection and a day to be proud.
It is a day we honor and remember the thousands of lives lost, the survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks on 9-11-2001.
It is a day we pay tribute to and reflect on the sacrifices of the public safety workers and the men and women in our military who serve us and protect us 365 days a year.
It is a day Americans can be proud of the way we came together following the attacks on 9-11.
United We Stood. United We Stand.
Here are some more resources about my experience on 9/11 and 9/11 in general:
My Experience as a Paramedic on 9-11-01
Remembering 9/11 (from 2009)