Article by: Karen Gregorcic (Public Safety Specialist – Equature)
This month our nation has been reflecting upon the horrors of that fateful day. I too was part of the public safety family and have a story to share. I had been working for the fire department for about 13 years and was on shift that morning as dispatch manager. I was preparing to go to a county meeting of local PSAP’s. Back then, it was a day of recognition for 9-1-1 dispatchers, September 11th. We were meeting at 10:00 am for business, then planned lunch to celebrate. That was the last time we all thought about celebrating dispatchers on this fateful day.
The dispatch center was located within the fire department near the common kitchen area. As with every day, the television was on even when no one was in the kitchen. Either the news or weather channel was the norm. Our offices were down the hall for captains, lieutenants, administrative and myself. I remember us all gathering in disbelief looking at the coverage of the first tower hit and burning. Shock. Disbelief. Tragic accident. Lives lost on a regular business day! Then the second tower was hit and it all escalated even more. Fear of what was next. Horror to think of an attack here in the United States.
Our PSAP was located in a township just south of Cleveland and Akron, near the CAK airport. While watching the news reporting of the World Trade Center Towers we started getting radio transmissions and phone calls of another plane routing over Cleveland and heading to Akron. That got our attention to preplan “What if it happens here?”. Our training and first responder instincts took over, how to mitigate the unimaginable. Our surrounding PSAP’s, police, fire and EMS community was in full response alert. As the air traffic control shared the flight path and that it was heading to PA there was an overwhelming sense of something. Adrenaline. Numb. Relief. Let down. But then where will the next tragedy strike?
Every minute of that fateful day is etched in my mind forever. The sense of family and closeness in dispatch, police, fire and EMS departments is so very powerful. It carries on, ever a part of our lives. Making a difference every day in the lives of so many people. Strangers. Rewarding lifetime careers.