On Sept. 11, 2001, EMS personnel worked under unimaginable circumstances. Many crews faced death twice within a time span of less than 60 minutes. EMS personnel were forced to render care under true battlefield conditions. While in the middle of patient care, crews had to run for cover to save their own lives, contrary to the usual course of events at an MCI. What follows are their personal accounts: graphic, descriptive and, most importantly, in their own words.
Three hundred and forty-three FDNY firefighters and officers died in the line of duty on Sept. 11 while responding to the World Trade Center attacks. You’ll find their names, ranks and photos beginning on p. 10. Many paramedics and EMTs who worked as firefighters or police officers, who had full-time jobs in the towers or who voluntarily went to the scene also died that day. However, only eight providers were part of the official EMS response.
Responders who tended their home fronts on Sept. 11 kept the New York 9-1-1 system running smoothly.
Within an hour of the Trade Center attacks, 23 EMS supervisors had been dispatched, along with 29 ALS units and 58 BS units. Eight hours later, 31 EMS supervisors had been dispatched and were working with approximately 400 on scene EMS personnel, including 47 ALS units (28 from voluntary hospitals) and 98 BLS units (23 from voluntary hospitals).
When the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, early estimates placed more than 10,000 people in or around the site, including hundreds of emergency responders who rushed to the scene when the towers were struck. Although efforts to locate and rescue survivors trapped in the rubble began immediately, the task proved daunting because 89 members of FDNY’s command staff were among those reported missing.
Orlando Martinez, EMT, FDNY EMS, was one block away from the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. After he and his partner, Frank Puma, transported a patient who’d been critically injured by part of a plane’s landing gear to NYU Downtown Hospital, he called his girlfriend, Maddalena Passarella, and told her a plane had hit the World Trade Center. “I told her I was OK and that I had to go back in to help more injured people,” says Martinez. “She told me to be safe and call her as soon as I could.”