There was seven floors standing when I got there, I think it was tower 2, and the smell was unforgetable. I still can smell the smell. I remember staring at this scene and thinking, "my God, this is a massive grave". As a prior military medic I had seen alot, but, this was horrific.
My sister came running down the stairs on Sept 11, telling me that a plane had hit the world trade center, I turned on the TV and just then we saw a plane going into the second tower and I told her we were being attacked. In the following days there were phone numbers advertised for people to help. I called and called but could not get through. I thought, military medics are not recognized in the civilian sector, what can I do? I was training to be a medical massage therapist at the time, thats it, I can help that way. I grabbed my table and off I went to Manhattan.
Initially it was pretty chaotic so it was easy to just get there and help. After that there was restrictions as to who could go to Ground Zero and what one could do. I worked with Firefighters and Cops. Some massage therapists who were trained in Canine massage worked on the dogs that were used to sniff out bodies. If you saw these poor dogs...they were worn out and exhausted. A New York sports club near the site set up shop for the workers to come for R&R, massage etc. I met firefighters from everywhere, Florida to California, they came from all over to help their brothers. I inherited 3 fire houses where I worked with the firefighters for up to a year later. I worked with a firefighter whose brother had perished that day. His whole unit had perished. They were the first unit to go into the towers. His jacket was found in March......he was found a few weeks after that. When I was in Battalion 26, I heard all the messages come over the radios (The Battalion was over all the fire houses in the Bronx, basically the Command Unit). I remember they would state"personnel do not come to the site". I never brought the situation up when working with the firefighters, I wanted them to trust me and when and if they wanted to talk about it they would. Some of them did. The stories I heard were devastating. Each firefighter was tasked to go to Ground Zero for a certain lenght of time and dig for bodies. I had a friend Kevin, that was a bagpiper and his task was to play at the funerals of his fallen brothers. I remember Lieutenant Lynch was down there digging on Patricks day, 2002. I worked on firefighters who were experiencing respiratory problems even at that time. I remember going out to my car every night after working with these guys and crying....crying for the people that had perished, crying for the wonderful people who serve this country be it military, cops, firefighters, and who ever reached out to help. I hope ye dont mind me sharing this here on Allnurses. I have held this inside for 5 years, people dont really understand. I ask Lieutenant Lynch sometimes, "Where do you put all this, how do you process it?" and he tells me, "Maria, we just go on". I ask God to bless the firefighters and I am honored to have worked with them. Battalion 26, Engine 92/Ladder44, Engine 68/Ladder 49. Thanks for listening, this is in a way healing for me.
Sep 10, '06
Thank you for sharing your experience. It was extremely difficult to us over in the UK to watch the terrors of that day, I can only imagine what it must have been like for you to have been there. We had a T.V. documentary aired over here several evenings ago, I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to watch it. My family and I had only visted NY in the February (the only time we had been to the States), I had been fascinated by the Twin Towers then, and I couldn't get over what an amazing city it was. And to watch the pictures of everything unfolding on the news, I couldn't get my head around the enornmity of what had happened..every day it was shown our hearts broke a little more for the people affected by that tragic day.
Sep 10, '06
Wow...thanks for sharing...thanks for all that you do...