"I" was a Fire-Fighter from 1964-to-1999 Both -Volunteer & Paid. On that 911-Day "I" was working for a Private Company and checking buildings and was to be attending a class near Tower #-1- "I" was Late and I was on the Brooklyn Bridge when the 1st-first plane hit the Towers. It was SO hard to believe, but I knew it was NOT a small aircraft. I tried to HELP ! but was told I was Retired and could NOT. I spent many many hours trying but to NO! avail. I was spared by GOD-Jesus christ & his grace on the 911-Day.
"10 years ago, DJ Sammy and Yanou released a version of "Heaven" featuring the words of a five year old girl who lost her father in the 9-11 attacks. This is the updated story of the girl from age five through today in her high school years."
I am not a fireman, but I am a survivor of the attacks of the WTC. I was in the south tower on the 78th floor but I left between the 2 planes. There were 5 of us there that morning but only 2 of us got out.
I was in Disney with my daughter in 2003 (she was 7 on 9/11) and there was a NYC fireman in the park with his kids. His arms were huge and he had a 9/11 tattoo for his fallen friends. I said to my daughter look, even here they remember it.
I am not an outgoing person, especially at that time about the events of September 11, 2001. He ended up being at our hotel and I ended up talking to him for about 2 hours.
We talked about his experience and my experience. I said to him how do you go to a building like that that when everyone else is running away. He said it's just adrenaline.
My wife and volunteer at the Tribute Center (www.tributewtc.org) in NYC and one of my associates always tells the tourists that the first responders did just a great job. 2749 people died in NYC that day, but 1365 were in tower 1 above the impact zone and I think 595 were above the impact zone in tower 2 and about 413 uniformed personnel died (343 fireman, 37 port authority police, 23 NYC police and I think 10 EMS). While 2749 people is not a trival number less than 400 people below the impact floors were killed. This is 100% a tribute to first responders and the job they did.
I have met many fireman over the past 2 years at the Tribute Center and I ask them the same question and always get a similar answer, its just the job, adrenaline. I don't believe it and I don't get it. I think you are just an amazing group of people. There are no other words I can say.
Whatever makes you people do what you do, I thank you and I know a lot of other people thank you.
A positive Story:
I was at home & just got off my shift at the local factory(see below). My wife & I were having a cup of coffee when they broke in on the morning show we were watching & said one of the towers was hit by an airplane. I just thought it was a small prop plane or small jet. Then the other plane hit the other tower. I watched the TV for the next 3 days in a stupor, not comprehending anything. One of the worst feelings was when I went outside & looked up in the sky & didn't see any plane entrails. It was an eerie feeling, so quiet. I knew at that point I had to do something. Being an Army veteran I wanted to re-enlist & find whomever it was & give them a what for. My wife nixed that idea, something about the 3 kids, I understood. My buddy had been pestering me to join the local fire dept, Pultneyville Fire & Water Rescue, for years. Being a son of a FF from the 70's I was interested but didn't feel I had the time. Well my buddy cornered me again & I told him if he wanted me to join to stop by & pick me up some time. Well he did on October 1st, 2001, October 8th my application was submitted & I was voted in November 12th. When that happened I became a sponge for everything about the profesion. 10 years later I am where I am because of September 11th, 2001!!!
Xerox Fire Dept
I was a First Responder on that fateful day 10 years ago. I had trained in CISM/D Critical Incident Stress Management/Debriefing, it seemed few people were training for CISM at the time. On 08 Jan 2002, my CISM/D instructor, Roland Kandle (Roland was the Director of the Mercury Critical Incident Stress Management Team he was also PAPD CISM Commander) died of a heart attack, after teaching as many of us to know and use CISM to do the best and most advantageous work to assist the overwhelmed and critically stressed individual.
I, with, other members of United States Search and Rescue Task Force were invited to come directly to the World Trade Center Location that had already been designated "Ground Hero". We all were aware of what we were really going into, it was never really a rescue operation as much as it was a recovery effort. I know that seems harsh, yet the best way to manage what we see and encounter, is to keep things as realistic as possible.
I was on the Pile so often I felt strange when I went home even for a day or two. I had the most awful dreams after I came home for many months it took all I had to face the demons of my sleep.
I, like others, slept on or under desks for the first week. We were burned out and yet we kept each other going. At the time we were a newly forged family and we were taking no chances with each other. My friend went with me to help with some donation pick ups. He went back to PA and he died a week later. For me that was one of the hardest deaths I have dealt with.
I am still in Emergency Services; I am a proud Fire Fighter, and an Officer with United States Search and Rescue Task Force.
I was affected personally and in my services very deeply. I had a hard time getting back to normal when it was over enough to go home. I did some interviews that were very positive and then I became angered as I started investigating and looking into the lack of actions taken or not taken on Sept 11, 2001, and the days both preceding and after Sept 11. I did several radio interviews, both Internet and regular radio about what I saw, what I thought, and any speculations I might have. People came from all over America right to my house and interviewed me about what I saw thought etc. I tried to keep things simple and clear, now I just make the best of the day and enjoy the people I am with. I am a Fire Fighter after I was told I would not recover from my Sept 11 injuries and WOULD NEVER wear SCBA or bunker gear without passing out or having another heart attack! I had a rough time cardiac, pulmonary, oral and maybe even brain wise. I lost all my teeth; I could not walk and talk and breathe as I went down the hall to use the restroom. I have brain tumors. I was in bed for years. I never gave up and I never will. Today as I watch it is clearer than ever so much could have been done differently. Today I advocate by being an example. I will stay in Emergency Services forever if I have it my way. Now I train as I live and live as I train even more than ever. I share with the young men and women especially youth as much as I can so that they always remember what I can never forget. My love for adrenaline sometimes makes me feel badly that I like the rush so much; I stood on the remains of thousands while in New York. This is a sobering fact and this is a sobering reminder of what went wrong in policy, leadership and accountability. On a positive note...I love more than ever, I enjoy the moments I have in the sun, in the rain, with friends and with family. I am forever changed for the better I pray.
May you be with the ones you love this somber Sunday and smile a smile for those of us that do feel forgotten, and remember if we can keep going...So can you. God Bless you, and thank you for reading my accounting, my apologies if I ran on. I look forward to reading and training and sharing with you all.
Sincerely and with the warmest of regards, SGT Matthew H Tartaglia USSARTF, Fire Fighter Perkasie Fire Co 1 Engine 26/76. I remain forever vigilant.