Paramedics waiting to be sent into the rubble were told that ``once the smoke clears, it's going to be massive bodies,'' according to Brian Stark, an ex-Navy paramedic who volunteered to help.
Stark said paramedics were told that ``hundreds of police and firefighters are missing'' from the ranks of those sent in to respond to the initial crash.
Before rescuers were mobilized, scenes of horror unfolded around the devastated buildings.
``Everyone was screaming, crying, running -- cops, people, firefighters, everyone,'' said Mike Smith, a fire marshal from Queens, recovering at the fountain outside a state courthouse, shortly after the second tower collapsed.
Due to the extreme nature of Tuesday's events, the IAFF has formally requested that the Department of Justice expedite the Public Safety Officers Benefit application process.
The largest loss of firefighters in a single incident, according to Firehouse.com research, happened on April 16-17, 1947 when 27 firefighters were killed following fires and ammonium nitrate explosions aboard two ships docked at Texas City, Texas.