September 11, 2001 World Trade Center, Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania
As many others around the country Jan-Care personnel and management heard of the attack on the World Trade Center shortly after the 8:48 am first aircraft impact. There was confusion on what exactly had happened and why.
Nearly all key management personnel were gathered around the television in our command center and we witnessed live the second plane crash at 9:03 am, the attack on the Pentagon at 9:37 am and then the collapse of the south tower at 9:58 am. Our EMS command discussions centered on the impact and destruction, and how Jan-Care crews would respond if it had occurred in our primary coverage area. How could NYFD mount a rescue operation in such a difficult situation?
Minutes later Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania at 10:03 am. The concern in our Command Center rose as we realized the magnitude of the attack. The Airline crash was less than 80 miles from Jan-Care’s Morgantown EMS station, should we respond as mutual aid, will there be any survivors? Jan-Care EMS crews in Morgantown went on high alert.
And then, as if a final blow, at 10:28 am the World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses. It is incredible how a nation’s consciousness can change in one hour and forty minutes.
There was fear and uncertainty, but mostly there was disbelief and anger, and the one thing we knew was Jan-Care needed to do something to provide aid and demonstrate our support for our country and New York City. Implementing a response plan became our first priority and Jan-Care response team members were contacted and assembled from across our nine county coverage area.
Ambulances were prepped and staged at corporate, our Emergency Response trailer was filled with mass casualty and rescue equipment. In the uncertainty of these first hours Jan-Care personnel had to have tense and heartfelt conversations with their family members; yes Jan-Care was responding, no, there was no confirmation how long the deployment may last. Plans to care for family members, pets, appointments, those things of everyday life, had to be reconciled in a few short hours.
The West Virginia state EOC (Emergency Operations Center), contacted Jan-Care and requested the formation of an emergency response team to stand ready for possible incidents within West Virginia. Two of the four aircraft used in the attack flew across West Virginia air space; there were internationally significant chemical plants and the national FBI fingerprint division within the state. Unmarked aircraft were sited flying with in West Virginia air space.
Against this backdrop, at 5:30 pm (less than 9 hours from the first attack) eight Jan-Care team members, with rescue rope bags, triage kits and extra medical bags left Jan-Care’s corporate offices in Beckley, WV in four emergency vehicles headed towards New York.
The following team arrived at Jersey City at 7:00 am the morning of September 12th, 2001.
Randy Hardy Chris Eades
Shane Wheeler Danny Wheby
Mike Harper Clint Tinchnell
Matt Hilliard Ivan George
The team staged in Jersey City, New Jersey and their first duty assignment was to set up a triage area at the subway entrance of the underwater subway that traversed the Hudson River between Jersey City and New York City. The Fire Department was attempting to locate one of the subway cars that reportedly were incapacitated within the long tunnel due to power failure. The mission was aborted when tunnel was searched and cleared.
Near dark on the 12th, 36 hours after the attack had begun and at a time when the WTC site was still considered a rescue operation, the Jan-Care Emergency Response Team was selected to be deployed across the Hudson River via a supply ferry boat to Battery Park, lower Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Center.
The Jan-Care team joined other response teams from across the region in an organized and methodical search and rescue operation. After an extended deployment and at a period of near exhaustion the team was commissioned a break and self-staged back at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, sleeping on park benches for a few hours and then returning to the site of mass destruction.
After the response tour the Jan-Care team departed the World Trade Center site returning to Jersey City via ferry. By that time there were hundreds of ambulances, rescue units, and Fire Departments lined up awaiting their opportunity for deployment.
Humbled by both the site of destruction and the enormous outpouring of support from across the country the Jan-Care team eventually made their way back to West Virginia, arriving at the time of a WTC (World Trade Center) and 9/11 Memorial Service at the Fayetteville Court House.
Many within the Jan-Care organization, who each played a role in supporting the response, were privileged to see the team members standing under a furling American Flag, with boots and uniforms still covered in the honored dust of ground zero.
Each team member has embraced, and it is echoed by all of Jan-Care, that the emergency response of Jan-Care on 9/11 may not have had a major impact on the fate of the unfortunate victims of this momentous act of terror; but it made each of us humbly proud to be a citizen of this great country that, in the darkest hour, did not shirk in fear, but together boldly responded under the unified belief that this nation shall always answer the call of those in need.