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Remembering 911

Crisis, like war or natural disasters (like this wildfire) can motivate us to work together. Lets not forget the days after 911 when we acted as one nation and one people.

I was working as a paramedic on September 11th, 2001. That day I was Advanced Cardiac Life Support medical training class with my coworkers, all of us paramedics. We took a break and when we came back our instructors were watching the TV that had previously been used for our training videos. On the screen were the first scenes I was to see of the planes impacting the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

We watched stunned as everything we new about safety and security in our country came tumbling down around us. We knew that our brothers and sisters (as they are called in the fire service) would be responding to those towers. Inevitably it would be the worst call of their careers and many died that day. They ran in as others ran out and when the towers collapsed they were inside. Later many more succumbed to toxic exposure as they fought to find survivors in the wreckage.

It is that day that our training entered into the realm of war zones. No longer were we caught in the crossfire of smaller disagreements. That day we became targets. Targets of international terrorists bent on bringing down the most powerful nation in the world.

I’ll never forget the vulnerability I felt that day as someone who could be called to respond to events of that magnitude. That resolve to continue to run in when others are running out was made easier by all the strangers who came up to us and thanked us for our service, for saving lives, and for putting our own lives on the line. They were the motivation we needed to get through one of the most trying times in our history as first responders.

Thank you to everyone who came together to help those in need. Whether it was on the front lines or elsewhere. We saw the best attributes of Americans rise out of the ashes of one of the worst days in our history. In those days, right after 911, it felt like we were truly all one country. Imagine how powerful we could be if we could harness that commitment today.

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