Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the September 11 Response
To all who helped our nation respond and all those who have aided in preparing for and responding to emergencies since then…thank you.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services personnel were honored to respond to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Many who responded shared their photos and memories from that historic day and the weeks that followed.
The sun rises through buildings that remain near the site of the World Trade Center after September 11.
“The thing that most touched my heart was the way everyone who was deployed pulled together to accomplish the mission, which was to provide medical support for those who were working the pile.”
- LT Donna Strong (USPHS), 9/11 Responder
Responders overlook a crane at the September 11 site in New York City.
“There are so many other things that have occurred which I really have not had the time yet to process. As a friend of mine told me in New York City at the time said, ‘I know I have lost a lot of friends today, but I don’t have time to think about that now.’ That seems true even ten years later.”
- Matthew Payne, 9/11 Responder
Human and canine responders stand at attention as the flag is raised at the World Trade Center pile.
“We realized that anytime we needed a ride back to the hotel that the NYC police were there to drive us anywhere we needed to go 24 hours a day and that the city had opened itself up to us for free meals at most restaurants.”
- CAPT Ron Bajuscak (USPHS)
American flag stands over the World Trade Center pile.
Veterinary medical assistance team tents set up to treat canine responders.
A canine responder rests.
Members of a Veterinary Medical Assistance Team care for a canine responder.
“Even in the city there is a mood of determination, cooperation. Flags are everywhere, and signs, t-shirts, graffiti. Taxi drivers don’t honk.”
- Nat Cobb
Members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team in a group shot near the World Trade Center pile.
“Being deployed to Ground Zero was the saddest and the greatest honor ever bestowed upon me. Words, photographs, and television cameras will never capture what it was like to have stood in the wreckage, its smell, endless billowing smoke, noise, and the immeasurable human spirit I witnessed.”
- LT Elizabeth Hastings
Six members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team stand near a first aid tent in New York City.
Members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team work in a medical tent in New York City.
Members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team bandage a wounded hand.
“While the events of September 11th filled my heart with anger and frustration, the men and women of the DMORT more than restored my faith in humanity. They opened my eyes to a never before seen degree of self-less concern for their fellow citizens.”
- Donald Belcher, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team
A medical tent set up to treat community members and responders in New York City.
Five members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team adorned with respirator masks stand near the World Trade Center pile.
Two members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team bandage a responder's arm.
A medical triage unit set up in New York City by the National Disaster Medical System.
“I was witness to the capacity of people to rise above issues and differences that at times divide us, and come together to help those in need. Those experiences continue to have a profound impact on my life and serve as a constant reminder of how people working together can overcome any adversity.”
- CAPT Tom Mignone (USPHS)
Four members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team in a medical tent.
“I grew up in the area so I had to get somewhat detached emotionally, especially since I knew a lot of FDNY rescuers who passed away. Unfortunately, a disaster such as that gives you a perspective and if any good came out of it was that it teaches you the ability of purely focusing on the task at hand.”
- Mark Russo, HHS Incident Commander for the 9/11 Response
Members of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team pack medical kits.
The attacks were a catalyst for an evolution in preparedness, response, and recovery. We are better prepared as a nation than we were a decade ago. We have proven to ourselves and the world how resilient we can be. Much remains to be done.
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