From the attack on Pearl Harbor to the attack on the Twin Towers, nurses have always played an important role in our response to disaster. Nurses are there to help in every natural or unnatural disaster. They, like the police and firefighters, are a resource that can be drawn on in times of distress.
With today being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I wanted to post something here that tells the story of that horrible day from a nurse’s perspective. I found this article on NurseZone.com. I hope you click over and read it all.
We all will remember 9/11/01. Let’s also remember those who were there to help.
Working at Ground Zero: From a Nurse’s Viewpoint
By Kristin Rothwell, NurseZone Feature Writer
“When you’re young you want to take care of the world, you want to take care of people,” said Megan Weiss, RN, from Dickson, Tennessee, when asked what inspired her to become a nurse. And that’s what she attempted to do on Sept. 11, 2001, when she was called on by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide medical aid at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks in New York City.
Tuesday, Sept. 11, began as a typical day for Weiss. She arrived on time at New York University Medical Center at 7 a.m., for her shift in the operating room department. It was only her second week in New York. She had recently moved from San Francisco, California. About 9 a.m., Weiss was assisting with a plastic surgery when she heard a news report on the radio in the operating room about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. She soon learned that two Boeing 767s crashed into Towers 1 and 2.
Within minutes of the two crashes, the hospital was on Disaster Alert—the staff would soon only be treating disaster victims. At about the same time, a few floors below, a medical team had just “cracked” open a patient for heart surgery. But, since the surgery could take up to nine hours, and the hospital administrators didn’t know how many disaster victims would be arriving, the patient’s chest had to be re-sewn and the surgery rescheduled.
“Everyone thought there would be many survivors,” said Weiss, knowing that the Towers employed nearly 60,000 people.
She helped other hospital staff prepare for the incoming patients. Within minutes, Weiss was escorted by NYU administrators to the front door to be picked up in an ambulance by FEMA personnel heading to Ground Zero. She is certified by FEMA.
“To this day, I still don’t know how [FEMA] found me,” she said. “But it wasn’t the only strange thing that happened.”
As they moved closer to Ground Zero in the ambulance, Weiss spotted a former colleague, Dr. Richard S. King walking down a deserted street covered in ash.
“When I saw him, I screamed ‘Stop,’ ” she said. “We picked him up though I don’t even know if he wanted to go. But he said ‘Thank you’ and asked, ‘Megan, what the hell are you doing here?’ He was tearing up and holding my hands. I told him I had just returned from California.”
Still three miles from Ground Zero, the ambulance had gone as far as it could. Debris blocked the roads. The passengers would have to walk the rest of the way.
“There were so many boulders, it was like walking on razors and the streets felt as if they were on fire. In fact the shoes my mother had just purchased for me melted,” Weiss said.
Before long, they met up with paramedics who took them to the nearby Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which had been set up like a MASH unit. Located several miles from the World Trade Center, the makeshift hospital had a 40-bed “emergency room” and classrooms that had been converted for anesthesia.
From there, Weiss, along with Cindy Foreman, RN, and Linda Su, RN, were chosen to leave with firefighters to provide immediate care at “the site,” as Weiss called it. “They didn’t even know our credentials,” she said.
Walking toward the area where the Trade Center once stood, she recalled, “Looking around, it was so dusty and dark. There were so many sheets of paper, something like 2 million pieces. They looked perfect, they weren’t ripped or torn. The soot and dust was about three feet high. I’ve never seen so much dust, it was just caked on everything. I learned later that everything was pulverized when the buildings came down.”
Please click here to read the rest of this article.