WTC: This Is Their Story - Part II

As the day went on, most of the activity was at the top of Tower 1. They started finding people, some removable, some not removable. And we had to do something about supplies and everything, because I was constantly sending people back and I finally...


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As the day went on, most of the activity was at the top of Tower 1. They started finding people, some removable, some not removable. And we had to do something about supplies and everything, because I was constantly sending people back and I finally came to the realization that when I kept asking for people, I said send me in two companies and I said tell them not to come in empty-handed. I told them, get a Stokes, fill it up with water and body bags. We had more body bags than we needed, but we thought we were going to find thousands of people there and we actually didn't. I asked the crews to bring water, batteries, flashlight, radios. Radio batteries were another big item. Everybody's radio wasn't charging. Just different things. Hey, Chief, what about this, what about that? I would tell them to bring this stuff. Guys would come right out to the command post and tell me they had a Stokes full of stuff, is that OK? I'd tell them to stack it up over there, put it up with the other stuff. The Stokes were packed here, the body bags were in there, they were stuffed there.

More and more people kept coming in, people from Jersey City, people from all over the place, and I just put them on the bucket brigades. I said, look, get over here, get on the other bucket brigade, as guys get relieved, as guys leave, you'll be moving up. I said, this is what we need done. That's what we kept doing.

After the first night, at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon on the second day, I realized that we were going to need the lights and generators. I was standing there and somebody knocked one over and I said oh, man, we're going to need these lights and generators. So I got a couple of truck companies that came in and I said, look, there are lights all over the place with generators. They're lying all over the place, the generators lying on their sides. I had a few guys with me, like Danny Messina and a couple of other guys. I was talking to the officer, I said, look, Pat, you've got to check out the lights and start up the generators to make sure they're working. And somebody said yeah, make sure you check the oil on some of them because in some of them there was an oil reservoir, so gas and oil had to be mixed. I sent a couple of companies out there to work on the lights. Some of them were broken, they wouldn't work, and some of the generators wouldn't start, so we had to start with that process all over again. We had to get the generators and get the lights and get them working. And that's basically how it was going that day.

Firehouse: Did they finally get your paint?

Visconti: Oh, yeah, we got paint. Somebody had said that they were asking for all this stuff, like socks and underwear. They said if we had asked for paint, we probably would have gotten a hundred thousand gallons. But that was the first day, when we were trying to mark everything. I did ask for paint. Somebody showed up, they had a case. I was expecting a can. They showed up with a case. So we're doing the arrows and even some guys wrote victim and now we had paint there.

Firehouse: Did you get a chance to walk around? I know people were sectored geographically because you couldn't go very far. Was there a point in time when you had a chance to get around and see the whole picture?

Visconti: I tried to go south. I walked south right through the debris field and I got to Liberty Street. I saw a lot of people coming in that way.

Boats were coming in and out, which I didn't realize, and they had a triage area set up. As a matter of fact, that's where the temporary morgue was. They had a temporary morgue down there and they had one up on West and Vesey, right outside the entrance to the World Financial Center. (Battalion Chief) Billy Blaich was down there and I heard other people on the radio. They still had the problem with the fire in the building on the corner. They put that out, then there was another fire. And I looked around, thinking that if I try to get around this whole place, I'll never get back.

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