We continue to present the extraordinary stories of those FDNY firefighters who were on the scene and operating in different areas before, during and after the collapse of the World Trade Center's 110-story twin towers following the terrorist attack on 9/11. The interviews were conducted by Harvey...
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I was on the phones trying to call Washington, but I couldn't get through. The operators told me that the Pentagon had also been hit. Then I got in touch with SEMO, the New York State Emergency Management Office, in Albany and asked them for help. They said they were already in the process of getting us help from the military. They said they already were on it, that they knew about the problem, so I was pretty comfortable with that.
I went back to the command board, which was now being set up on the Liberty Street side of 2 World Trade Center, inside the lobby next to the doors. Now, people coming down in the stairwell, civilians coming down in the stairwell, were more severely injured. They were burned and bloody and broken, so we knew some of these people were coming down from those floors that were affected by the crash.
I got word back on my OEM radio that the third plane was no longer inbound, that it had crashed and so that all gave us a sigh of relief. I asked Chief Burns whether there was anything else that I could do. And there really wasn't a lot to do for me right there, so I stood in the background and I noticed that the lobby was beginning to fill up with civilians.
The people at the command post now were Chief Burns and Chief Jack Fanning. I remember seeing Carl, the aide from 54 Engine. I remember seeing the police photographer who introduced himself to me and said that he had been directed by the police commissioner to document everything that he could document. Apparently, from what I understand, he did not make it out, but they did get the film out of his camera.
As the lobby was filling up with these injured people, it was beginning to impede the evacuation down the stairwells of other people and I knew that we needed to get the lobby cleared. I asked the Port Authority to take people who could walk underground to 7 World Trade Center, where we had established a triage area. A lot of these people could not walk any farther. The lobby was beginning to fill up. There were no chairs for people who were injured to sit in, so they were sitting on the floor and lying on the floor.
I took it upon myself to go find EMS, which is a decision that saved my life. I told Chief Burns that that's what I would be doing. I went out the doors back onto the Liberty Street side. There was stuff crashing all around. Earlier, a company came in the lobby and told us that there was already a fireman was dead outside, that he was killed by a jumper. Later on, I found out it was a firefighter from 216 Engine.
Now I went outside. As I got just outside the doors on the sidewalk, Mike Lynch yelled my name out and he was out at 4 Truck's rig. He was a chauffeur and he was trying to get the Hurst tool off by himself, but it was difficult, so he yelled to me for help. I started running toward him to help him, but before I got over to him, a younger fireman got to him first and helped him, so Mike said never mind to me. He was taking that Hurst tool back inside to try and force the elevator car down so he could get the people out.
That rig was later found below grade, apparently, they found it three or four levels down, so that's where Mike was the last time I saw Mike alive. I had worked with him in Ladder 4. I knew Mike very well. I was fortunate enough to be able to tell his family that I witnessed him saving those people in the elevator and I'm confident that they had time to get many of them out to safety before Mike was killed.
I ran out across Liberty Street as fast as I could, knowing that people were jumping and things were crashing down from the building above me. I ran over to the pedestrian bridge at West and Liberty where EMS was beginning to set up their staging area. I ran into (Deputy Chief) Charlie Wells from EMS, also a good friend, and I said to Charlie that we needed help inside of the lobby of 2 World Trade Center, there were a lot of injured people. So he said Timmy, just give me a minute to get a couple of guys together and then we'll all go back in together.
I stood there underneath the pedestrian bridge with them. He got two paramedics. They put their helmets on. They got their jump kit and their stretcher, and about two minutes later we were running back across Liberty Street to the southwest corner of the Marriott Hotel. We ran to the edge of that and I wanted to take them along the edge very close to the building so that we would be protected from any falling debris.