102 Minutes

By Ed Marasco, MPM, CMTE, EMT-P (ret.)*

On a clear, sunny, late summer Tuesday in September of 2001, the world we knew at that time changed in ways that we could never have anticipated. Nineteen individuals associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and countless others died in the weeks, months, and years since, because of the events that took place that day.

We have lost loved ones, family, friends, and colleagues.

Terror attacks were not something that was unheard of in those days; however, the sheer scale of the attack and the brazen approach to the deadliest attack ever perpetrated on American soil made this event one that rocked a generation. In many ways the events of that day, and the painful days that followed, will never leave those of us who are approaching retirement age. Our generation has known tragedy and challenge… from economic downturn to war, civil unrest and a pandemic that changed our way of life. The last few decades have been marked by many such challenges but few, if any, are so etched in our consciousness.

102 MinutesAs we approach the 20th anniversary of that horrifying day, we cannot help but reflect on people we lost… from those who were simply going about their daily routine during the early part of their week, to those first responders who answered the call, rushed to help, and gave their last full measure of devotion. I often recall seeing the now-famous photo of Ladder 118 crossing the Brooklyn Bridge responding to the Trade Center with six firefighters on board. None of them even thought for a second about the job ahead not realizing it would be their last. All perished moments later as the first Tower collapsed. For those of us who are so closely linked to the public safety profession, the loss of life among our brothers and sisters is particularly painful. They answered the call, like so many times before, and will never return to their mothers, fathers, spouses, sons, daughters, and stations.

Not one of us three “old EMS guys” have thankfully ever faced such a tragic day. It’s unimaginable. We reflect on the horror of what played out on that day… the chaos, the suppressed fear, the raw emotion of what unfolded before those brave men and women culminating in destruction, devastation and then silence as radio traffic ceased and the souls of so many faced their eternity abruptly and without warning. And yet, not a single one of those we lost hesitated for even a moment to do what they were trained to do- run into hell rather than run away from it- sealing their places in history as the ultimate heroes they were unknowingly destined to be.

We asked ourselves “how do we honor these true heroes of our generation?” “Is there an appropriate way to celebrate their commitment?”

We choose to honor their memory by celebrating their service. In memory of those we lost that day, may we challenge each of you (and us) to be the best mother, father, spouse, son, daughter, colleague, mentor, role model and first responder you can be. Honor their legacy by making a difference. Hone your skills, learn the latest about a common disease process, take extra care to be sure your vehicle and equipment are ready for the shift, assist a less experienced colleague, or simply hold the hand of a frightened Patient. BE READY, BE ON TIME, BE YOUR BEST, AND ABOVE ALL ELSE, BE KIND. That’s how we can honor those who gave so much on that terrible day.

God Bless and Be Safe Out There!

Gary Harvat
Chuck Humphrey
Ed Marasco

*Ed Marasco is QMC’s Vice-President of Business Development and a veteran healthcare provider and administrator with over 40 years of experience in emergency medical services, reimbursement and consulting.

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