Brighton's first responders gathered in the parking lot of City Hall Sept. 11 in a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York.
'You might not get home'Brighton Fire Rescue Lt. Chris Elliott said there are a few times in a first responder's career when they get the distinct feeling "you might not get home," as was the case for the firefighters to responded to the World Trade Center."They had that feeling as they went forth into that doomed building," Elliott said. "They overlooked their own safety."As has been the case most every anniversary since, the phrase "We Will Never forget" is commonplace. Elliott asked the crowd to think about that phrase as it pertained to the victims, including the families of the 1,600 parents who never came home."What do you think that phrase means to firefighter Kevin Shea?" Elliott asked. "He was off duty but managed to jump onto Ladder 55. They responded from the west side of Manhattan. He can't forget his role as the surviving member of that company. He was blown out of the building when the tower collapsed."How does life get back to normal for Engine 54, Ladder 4 and Battalion 9?" Elliott continued. "They lost 15 members of their company in one hour and 47 minutes."Elliott said the impact of the 9/11 attacks seems to be lost on many Americans."They will like a celebrity's Instagram post and then move on to the next TikTok video,"he told the crowd. "For those who lead lives to serve others, the memories remain fresh wounds."
Mixed emotionsBrighton's incoming fire chief said 9/11 provides a sense of confusion."A lot of us are pulled in different directions," said Brycen Garrison, who will come to Brighton by way of the Thornton Fire Rescue District. "There's the sadness because of the loss of all the firefighters' companies. We feel a sense of pride in the work they did that day. It's OK to feel both pride and sadness."But it also creates confusion," Garrison added. "That's why we are so passionate."
EMS responsePlatte Valley Ambulance Service Department Director Carl Craigle came to Brighton six months after the 9/11 attacks. He began his explanation of emergency medical service response by saying, "It's an old adage. If you've seen one EMS provider, you've seen one EMS provider."Services depend on the communities’' needs. In the case of emergency response in Shanksville, Pa., it was a volunteer fire department and a non-profit ambulance service."As horrific as it was, they were hoping there'd be someone to save," Craigle said. "There wasn't."The Pentagon is in Alexandria, Virginia. EMS service there comes from the fire department and with support from agencies in Virginia and Maryland."In Washington, D.C., they held back," Craigle said. Everyone expected the White House or the Capitol to be next."Craigle called New York City "a large, complex city" with five boroughs, each of which has its own identity and its own needs."The main provider is FDNY, but there is no way they can cover an area of 1 million people," Craigle said. "Every one of the boroughs has hospital-based EMS." All sent men and equipment to the Twin Towers.
Pictures in one's mindCraigle said he spent most of the last 20 years visualizing what the EMS providers must have seen on 9/11. For one, the site of the former World Trade center was a huge campus."When they arrived, EMS had to bring the stretchers across a large expanse," Craigle said. "There were large shards of glass. If you slipped and fell, you could get cut up pretty pad. Then came the large objects, office furniture, a copying machine."Then came the citizens," he continued. "Some intentionally jumped. Other purposefully tried to climb down the skyscraper. I've been trying to imagine what that would have taken for me and my partner .. and then to make the return trip."In the last 20 years, you and I have been through a lot, the birth of children .. some flat-out bizarre calls," Craigle said."I can't imagine losing all these people in a sudden moment."
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