Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You?

I heard the asked many times at work last night... Here is mine.....

I had rescue squad duty 9-10-01. Got off at 7am and was at home watching the Today show, getting ready for clinicals that night. I watched the confusion about the first plane and the Pentagon. I watched the second plane hit. It was surreal. My home is driving distance from the Pentagon and friends have family who work there.

I did clinicals at the Trauma Center that afternoon/evening. I was in the STICU (surgery trauma) and the burn unit. The whole hospital was "on hold" anticipating getting patients from the Pentagon. It was so beautiful here that day... blue skies. Blue like they didn't know something had happened that was going to change everything.

I'll talk about my night in the ICU later. Today is not the day. I would love to here from you guys out there. Where were you?

For FF Smagala NYFD My art teacher's brother.


Blogger CharterJames said...

I was in my office at 55 Water, a building at the very bottom tip of Manhattan, and directly south of the WTC, and therefore, directly under the debris plume. I had gone to work early, at 7:30. My office was in the bowels of my building, windowless, but our larger work area had windows on an outdoor mezzanine plaza. The company was setting up catering there for an event of some sort. First we noticed the workers scattering and panicked when the debris started falling. Then the secretary's phones started ringing. Secretaries on the upper floors of the building had front row seats to the disaster and were already at the windows watching when the second plane flew past very close by, then struck the south tower. Our receptionist screamed that NY was under attack. I tried to tune in a battery radio to find out more but the newscasters were uselessly speculating on whether it was an accident or terrorist act, rather than giving information. Finally my wife phoned and asked what I knew. But she, at her office on 5th and 30th knew more than me. I told her debris was falling. She said that if debris was falling maybe I should get our daughter. Only then did it slam into my brain that my 8 year old daughter's school was a mere 3 blocks away from the complex. Now I believe I realized that if the debris was blowing south, that her school to the north might now be so affected and so I temppered my reaction, but still I was upset. I immediately shouted at my manager that I was going to ge t my daughter. Then went down the two story escalator from lobby to the mezzanine two steps at a time. I remember repeating out loud over and over, "what kind of father am I???"

The event affected me deeply though I was only peripherally involved. I don't understand why. In part maybe because I'd worked in the south tower for ten years. I could easily sense the terror and vulnerablility people would have been exposed to. I was a company fire deputy and participated in the repeated drills after the first attack. Also we used those stairs all the time to go between floors during the work day. I sometimes took them all the way down when I worked late or on weekends. You could look down them and not see bottom. As I skirted the disaster to get to my child I tried to calculate from the position of the hole whether my former colleagues were affected. My mind, though it posessed sufficient knowledge to make the calculation, refused to focus. People crowded the streets confused, distraught, waves of panic would set them suddenly running.

As I crossed Hudson St on my way to my daughter I saw the convoys of vehicles responding. Fire equipment with plates from all over, Jersey, Connecticut, fire fighters in private vehicles, I saw a man outriding on the running board of a truck, the windows open so he could clutch the frame.

We were about 1/2 mile away when the south tower collapsed. I was on a cross street when I hear the roar. It sounded like a blow torch. People ran screaming from emotional overload. When I gained a view there was only the cloud. I trudged up and up through people standing and staring back down at the sight. When north went down I didn't even look. A man said quietly as I passed, "There goes Tower One"

Finally, my daughter safely with neighbours, and all phones out, I walked to my wife's office to tell her we were okay. I walked past Beth Isreal on the way up 2nd Ave. All the staff were scrambled onto the street in there medical blues and with gurneys ready. But there was no one to treat. The sight hit me in the gut. I remember one female doctor tracking me with her eyes as I trudged dazed up the middle of the trafficless street. My wife found me in the street. She told me about the people jumping. We walked to my son's school to get him. I waited outside while my wife dealt with it. I was sitting on the railing of the steps with my head in my hands. A little league coach I knew and his wife arrived to get their boy. The woman asked me if I was okay. I had not realized how distraught I looked. I didn't know what posture to take with my son. I gave it to him naked, "The world Trade Center is gone, destroyed. They flew airliners into it"

This is the first year that I can even watch the documentaries etc. I have not seen any of the movies. Sorry about the length of this.

7:46 AM  
Blogger jeepgirl said...

No worries.... you give me goosebumps. I don't watch the movies either. Just not there yet.

8:17 AM  

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