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Thursday, September 11, 2008

7th Anniversary of September 11th

Today marks the 7th Anniversary of September 11th. Take the time to reflect on the events and the heroics of so many of our Brothers.

Most of all, discuss with and educate our Brothers and Sisters who were not in the department at the time.

Maybe discuss what you were doing when you found out, how long you watched the news to see the events unfold, or what your first thoughts were when you saw what was happening.


Anonymous said...

Well, to the newer guys. Think about September 11, 2001 like this: We have 265 men and women working for (well employed) Roanoke Fire-EMS. FDNY lost 343 (and counting) and disabled more than triple that. OK now that would total our department 5 times. We all would die and be resurrected 5 times to equal the number of folks FDNY lost. Not to mention the other 2300 or so that was murdered that day at the WTC and the 224 that perished at the other 2 sites.

Immediately on the collapse of the towers a lot of us knew a rough estimate of how many guys were in the buildings. We knew right away that there would be catastrophic loss of life by both responders and civilians. And we all felt a gut punch, not that the citizens didn’t, that very nearly took us each to our knees.

Our job took on a whole new meaning in the span of 2 hours. The entire structure of every fire, EMS, police, and security department in the world was redefined and restructured to combat this new unthinkable threat. Sure we planned for WMD emergencies and terrorist attacks but nothing on this scale was imagined.

For a couple of months we were thanked by every citizen we saw, kids and their families brought things for us at the stations to help us cope. The “bull crap” calls were very nearly nonexistent. The community of Roanoke was a beautiful oasis amid dealing with the attacks. Most of us never met anyone that was murdered. Some of us had relatives and friends die. Still people came by and thanked us and wished us safe shifts at work. This all faded, the ‘crap’ calls came back, and the intensity of the stress on our job increased 10 fold because of about 2 hours in New York. About 2 hours is a rough estimate of how long it took for the planes to hit, the buildings to fall, and for men to die. Two hours was the beginning of a long difficult road that is no where near finished.

For about 2 hours 2.85 firefighters died every minute. Our approach to everything related to our job was completely wrong for that time. Our triage system was wrong, our approach to crashes was wrong, our command and staging areas were wrong, and our jobs were being done wrong. For hundreds of years firefighting has progressed to an unbelievable level of excellence and in the span of about 2 hours we learned it was all wrong. Every fire department in the country came under scrutiny; are they doing this right, can they protect us, do they have the stuff they need, do they have enough manpower, do they need this, do they need that, and the list goes on. The answer to most of these questions was, is and will be YES. Did we get everything we need? No we didn’t. Are we going to? Probably not, amidst the remembrance of 9/11 we here in Roanoke are cutting trucks, cutting manpower, and lowering our coverage. This is the time when we should be thinking improvements and bolstering our staff, but we aren’t.

Many of the seemingly mundane and insensible actions we take now that seem repetitive and that seem to be a waste are because of September 11, 2001. Our ARFF crew had to help boost security at Roanoke Regional Airport, no apparatus could be left unattended in public due to terrorist threat, we had to rethink our staging on calls, we had to change our response directions, our dispatch sequence has to be rotated, our accountability system had to be reworked, our response to high rises had to be rethought. In short ladies and gentlemen each and every one of us doing this job prior to 9/11/01 was fired from our jobs and had to learn a new job overnight. This is what it was like bring a Roanoke firefighter during the attacks. We felt helpless for union brothers and sisters. We helped where and when we could by having fund raisers and so forth. We kept the guys up there in our thoughts and prayers. And we waited, adapting where we could and trying to do the best job we could. A lot of things can be said about how bad our department is and the direction it is taking, but all things being considered it’s still not bad.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this you should put your name to it, well thought, and well said.....
"To Those Who Fell And To Those That Carry On, May We Never Forget"

Anonymous said...

To whomever wrote, in my opinion,the most outstanding post to date on this site, my hat is off to you. For you "young guys", take heed of the the great discription of how our job has changed since that dreadful day. To witness the tremendous swing from being practically worshipped by the citizens and seemingly appreciated by City administration to having benefits cut, stations closed, and manpower cut has been hard on us. Remember, that at any time we may make the ultimate sacrifice just as the 343 did. I'll bet that when they reported to work that day, they thought that, just like every other day, they would return to their families at the end of the shift. We have many battles to fight, pay & benefits, staffing, etc. Please do not let us be our our own worst enemy.

Craig Sellers