Echolier

September 11

Colton Ford, Guest Writer

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“Get out of the building! We have 29 minutes left!” I hear the chief’s voice over the radio.

“My friend is still in there! Sir, please save him!” A voice cries of out from the smoky darkness.

“Please stand back, we have this under control, we will do all we can,” I say. What they did not know was that the South Tower had already been smothered. Nor did they know that the tower they were in was close to the same fate.

Smoke is filling my lungs; it is getting harder and harder to breathe. I hear distant screams all around me. “Help! Please, help me!”

“Fire department call out.”

***

September 9, 2001

It is going to be a good day! The sun is out and the wind is blowing. I am off to the coffee shop to get a nice cup of coffee with my buddy, Sam, just before we head to Station 5.

“Good morning, sir,” the smiling barista greets me.

“Good morning; how are you?”  I reply.

“Good, thank you; what can I get you this morning?”

“I would like a black coffee, please.”

“Here you go, sir; have a nice day!”

“Thank you. You, too!” I reply. “Sam, you ready?”

“Yeah, let’s go,” he nods.

***

Beep! “Station 5, engine 81, house fire on South Ben St,” the dispatcher’s voice comes over the radio.

“Let’s go, boys; suit up!”

The sirens are sounding full blast; flying through the red lights, I can see the smoke off in the distance. It looks like a small house fire. As we pull up to the house, I see a little girl standing outside. She is my first priority. As I run to her, I hear a scream.

“Is your family out of the house?” I ask.

“No!” She says.

“Stay here. I promise, I’ll get them out.”

As I run into the house, there is fire everywhere. It has spread throughout 90% of the house. “Fire department call out!” I hear a call from the kitchen. Sam is in there!

“I’m on it; go look in the bedrooms,” Sam yells.

“As I crawl on the floor, the wood cracking beneath me did not faze me; the safety of the little girl’s parents is the only thing on my mind. “Fire department call out!” As I enter the room, I see a blue blanket. I crawl up to it and it moves. From that point forward, I do not care what it is; I need to get it out of the building. I pick it up and continue to head out of the house. When I get out, I see that Sam already has her mother. I begin to unfold the blanket and see that the little girl’s father was wrapped up in it. He had been trying to make his way out, but had stumbled and fallen down. After checking them both out, we knew they would be ok. I had kept my promise.

“Mommy!” the little girl cries. “Thank you so much, fire fighter!”

“It’s our pleasure,” we say.

***

September 10, 2001

“Good morning, Captain!” I greet him as I arrive at the station.

“Good morning. Hopefully today’s better than yesterday. Man what a day!” the captain shakes his head.

“We’ll see what the day brings us,” I know from experience that you just never know what kind of day it will be.

Beep! “Station 5, ambulance 61, truck 81, man in distress, Johnson St.” the dispatcher’s voice interrupts our conversation.

“Let’s go boys; get in the truck.”

It is a hot, miserable day as we weave through the afternoon traffic.

As we approach the scene, a man runs toward the rig, screaming, “Help, please, help!”

“Go! Go! Go! Grab the two eight-foot ladders. Sam, get the webbing, we need to get him out of there right away!” I yell commands.  A man has fallen through a broken drain grate. He is hanging there, as the metal from the drainage vent digs into his flesh. He is slowly bleeding out.

“We need to strap the ladders together and make an A frame over him to pull him out, get me the grinder,” I am talking quickly but clearly. “As I cut, slowly lift him out.”

“Ahhhhhh please stop! It hurts Uhh!” the injured man groans.

“Let’s go, get him out of there! He’s bleeding out!”

As we pull him out slowly, he loses consciousness. The ambulance crew takes him hospital where he is properly treated.

“Man what a day!”

***

September 11, 2001

I can’t sleep, I decide to go into work early and get a head start on the day. As I’m driving to work I get this weird feeling today’s not going to be a normal day. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel right. When I get to work, I do my normal routine, check the rig, check the oxygen tanks, and do my paperwork for the day. As I’m sitting there I here the bell go off .

Beep!! “Engine 81, squad 3, ambulance 61, building on fire!”

“ I’m telling you, chief, this doesn’t feel right,” I say. As we approach the scene, we see fire coming out of the North Tower. We hear on the news a plane has struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. This is more then what we bargained for, but I know our training will kick in. Our first priority is to save lives. Something catches Sam’s eye, and we know we’re going in.

“We’re going to have to use the stairs, the elevators are out,” Sam said with smoke in is lungs. The smoke is so thick we can hardly see or breathe. We clear each room, directing people to staircases.

“Captain, I hear a voice coming from the room above,” said Sam.

We agree he will go.

I told Sam, “Meet me at the staircase.” I’m so glad sam is my partner. I’ve always fully trusted him to do the right thing.

“Out! out! This is an order. Exit immediately.” The chief yells into the radio.

“ Sam, are you heading to the stairs?” I call over the radio. “Sam call out!” “Chief, I think Sam’s hurt. I need to go look for him,” I try to speak calmly into my radio.

“ NO! No one goes back in, get out now!” Chief yells.

“Chief, I can’t just leave him,” I protest.

***

On September 11, 2001 at 8:45 am two planes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. Over 343 fire fighters were killed, including my best friend Sam Vogel. 2996 civilians were killed, including 19 hijackers. And more than 6,000 others were injured. When I look back at that day of sorrow, it reminds me of why I became a firefighter, to protect the people of this world.

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Collegedale Academy
September 11