By James Dundas, Chair of the IPSA Memorial Committee
Like many firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMT’s, public safety is a family affair. After arriving at the North Tower on 9/11, one of the Chief Officer’s instituted incident command issuing tactical orders to arriving units. His brother, another firefighter, responded on one of the initial engine companies.
Knowing that rescue was the priority, the Chief Officer ordered companies into the tower to effect rescue of those trapped by the searing fires. His brother, one of the first in, never came out.
There are stories of heroism, sacrifice and incredible loss in public safety history, and 9/11 was one of the most tragic day’s in our nation’s public safety community. Tragedy does not seem to capture the absolute horror these brave responders experienced on that day of terror.
A few years later, when I met this Chief Officer and heard his personal story about 9/11, I also got to meet his aide – they shared the same last name, but the two were not related. They seemed inseparable. Sadly though, the aide recently passed away from 9/11 related cancer.
The number of losses from 9/11 continues to climb due to related illness and exposure to toxins at ground zero. I was fortunate to see him before he passed. He was heroic in his conduct and attitude. He set in place programs and services to assist those suffering from the tower collapses, knowing that he would not be a beneficiary of those services. He is a shining example of the human spirit.
To him, and to all who rush into harm’s way, we will never forget.