Profiles in Courage
“The World Trade Center Tower No. 1 is on fire!” one firefighter radioed.
As the depth of the crisis became clear, the voices on the radios thickened with panic.
“Send every available ambulance, everything you got to the World Trade Center,” a firefighter calls from Engine 1. “Now!”
Firefighter Patrick Martin of Engine 229 said that after the south tower had collapsed and before the north tower came down, his lieutenant instructed him to go on a boat taking people to hospitals across the Hudson River.
“I told him I wasn’t leaving,” Martin said. “We were still missing one guy.”
Timothy Burke of Engine 202 said a firefighter from another company had a cell phone, and he and others used it to call their families.
“It seemed pretty bad that everybody was willing to get on the phone and try to call their wives to say goodbye or say whatever,” he said. “Just the faces of people â€” you kind of knew that some of us were going to get hurt because it was too, too, too much going on.”
A team of medics told how they tried to treat a firefighter who had been hit by a woman falling from one of the towers, but realized he had no vital signs and had suffered catastrophic injury. Nevertheless, they continued to work on him, carrying out pointless CPR work, in deference to the shocked firefighters who were with him.
The Fire Department lost 341 firefighters, officers, and a deputy commissioner; two paramedics employed by the department also died, bringing the department’s total losses to 343. But Chief Goldfarb noted that emergency medical response in the city is also provided by private hospitals, and six of those workers died.
“We keep talking about the losses on this job from an E.M.S. standpoint, and we say there were two, Carlos Lillo and Ricardo Quinn,” Chief Goldfarb said. “There were six other E.M.S. professionals that died in this incident on our mission, and it’s not their fault or anybody else’s fault.” He said the E.M.S. system had become “a hodgepodge of voluntary hospitals and voluntary ambulances and commercial ambulances.”
“But you know what?” he added. “They all came in to do our mission and I think that they need to be recognized as such and I think it’s a disgrace to us that we’re not counting the names of these six dead people who were just as heroic and just as dead as Quinn and Lillo on the same mission.”