EMT PETER CONSTANTINE
At that time, I don't know what time it was, we heard across the radio the tower's gonna fall, the tower's gonna fall.
Q: You heard that on the radio?
A: Oh yeah, it came across. And then all of a sudden, when you looked up, you froze for a couple of seconds, you saw these little pieces falling off. Then all of a sudden, everyone started to run. Then, you started to run, your helping people, helping them run. You saw it, it was amazing-like out of a movie, you know, the cloud's just chasing you. As you look back, you see it engulf people. After that was over, we all went back in.
And then, it felt like ten minutes, the other building fell. I read in the paper the next day that it was actually something like 30 minutes later that it fell. When that one fell everybody ran again.
EMT JOSEPH HENDERSON
We were directed where to park. We parked, and we went to help two other medics. Then when we were coming back, we went to go to the staging area when somebody started screaming that the building was falling. I looked up, because I went back to the bus to get the long board while my partner was waiting for me. I looked up, see all the debris, you hear the rumble coming down. I don't know which direction I took off to go. I took off from like this way. As I was running, you feel a bunch of debris hit you and knock you down. After I got up, you couldn't see where you were going. You had a bunch of people screaming. A few of the ambulances were exploding. You felt debris hitting you, choking, couldn't breathe, walking around, it seemed like forever. Finally I was able to get inside of an ambulance that the lights on. We stayed there for a few minutes. But there was so much debris and stuff that you could hear hit the buses and stuff, like stuff was crashing on the bus around you. So we were able to get out. There was a building on the side that we were able to go into. We stayed there for, I don't know, a certain amount of time. A female cop came running in and said, "One of your guys is on fire. One of your guys is on fire." When we came back out, that's when the second building collapsed. We were able to run from that one because we weren't too close to that.
Q. You were down here at
A. Yeah, after the first collapse. I was able to get in an ambulance. We were able to get out because everything here was being crushed. A few of the ambulances were on fire. You could hear some of them exploding. So after we got out of the ambulance, we ran to one of these buildings. Then after we came back out, we got about this far, and then that's when the second building collapsed.
EMT ALWISH MONCHERRY
As we're lifting her up, I notice people rushing towards us, and when I look up, I see the building coming down. It's almost hovering over my head in slow-motion. I'm like holy--- you know.
Q: You can say what you want, it's fine.
A: I just, I froze for awhile. I looked up and I couldn't believe when it started coming down. It was a decision that I knew I had to make, but it took awhile for me to do it. The building's coming down real fast, and it looks like slow motion. I had to leave. I turned around and I had to go. If I would have stayed and ran back to the ambulance, I don't know what would have happened. So as far as I know the people who were within that vicinity there, if they ran the wrong way, turned the wrong way, if they looked the wrong way, something could have either fell on them at that moment, or after a long time, from all the debris piling up, they would have been dead. Definitely. So I just ran. I turned around, I thought about my kids. My daughter, 5 years old, Imani. And my son, brand new to the world, one month old. And my wife, we just got married in August. I thought about them and I said I can't leave them. I turned around and started running. On my was running, I found a lot of people, and I helped out a few that I knew needed help. If they could run, just run with me. Just keep on going.
I know when the Lieutenant told us where to go, that wasn't the correct staging area, cause we were still too close to the buildings. They wanted everyone away from it. That's when there was a third building that collapsed around that time.
Q: Building Seven, which would be over here.
A: Okay, 7 World Trade, that one collapsed.
Q: 7 World Trade collapsed a little later.
A: Yeah, a lot later. That happened en route, while we were walking towards our unit.
Q: That happened at .
A: Wow. We stuck around there for a long time. I would say for most of the day and night.
EMT LUIS SANCHEZ
So all of a sudden we had this other patient come out of asthma, throwing up, vomiting, screaming and just yelling. She was just real nervous. We were just telling her it was going to be okay, it was going to be, don't be nervous, everything's going to be all right. We just gave her 02, and she seemed to calm down. But she was throwing up. We were trying to make her feel better, saying jokes, anything to make her feel good, better. Five minutes later I just heard this loud noise. It was like an earthquake. It was shaking, and things was going down. I looked everywhere. There was nothing going on. I looked to the side, looked to my friend. There was nothing going on. When I looked up, I saw the top of the building floor by floor was coming down, collapsing. I was oh. (Inaudible.) I looked at my patients. They were all there, just throwing up. They didn't know what was going on. I looked at everybody. They seemed like they didn't know what was going on. All of a sudden I just looked up and said this is for real, is this a dream or what? I'm like, what do I do? Do I run? What do I do? Pick up the patients? Call my partner? What I did was I screamed, I yelled. I said, "The building's collapsing. The building's collapsing. Everybody run."
LIEUTENANT GEORGE J. DeSIMONE
We were on the apron of that at that point in time. After that, I got out of there as quick as I could because the building was decaying. I mean, there was fire coming out of it, fire dropping down, and at that point I think we started to notice bodies dropping from the buildings. In that amount of time, and I can't tell you how long the frame was, maybe about a half hour, maybe 20 minutes, maybe two hours, we saw multiple bodies. I probably counted 20 bodies that had jumped from the windows. As we got back up the street -- they had told me from the command post to just wait, that they would tell us what to do. The next thing I know, we heard a little bit of a rumbling, and then white powder came from the first collapsed building. I thought it was an explosion initially. We got hit with the powder. We tried to run. We got hit with the powder. It took a few minutes to clear.
We did that for the better part of a half hour or better. Right after that, in my mind, I heard a rumbling, and it was almost as if it was the roller coaster at
I checked in at the command post and said that we're available. They said just take it easy, sit there, and basically throughout the remainder of the next couple of hours, past noontime, I'd say, we were just hanging out, sitting together, and just scared as hell. We saw jets overhead, commercial airliner, military jets, Air Force jets, and we didn't know what the hell was going on.
PARAMEDIC ARTURO GONZALEZ
When we responded down, we went down
Then when the second plane crashed, the explosion, they decided to move us -- move further up. somebody was screaming that another plane crashed. The next thing is we're in here but running out of all these buildings because of the explosion and the crashes that every building was creating and spreading all over the place.
EMT NORBERTO TORRES
From there I was talking to J.R. Rivera at the time trying to get one of the chiefs a mask when the first building started to come down. All we heard was like a loud, thunderous roar. At first everybody was like, oh, no, another plane? There was all kinds of reports going on that there were numerous planes headed towards the financial district. You looked up and all you saw was a wall of debris blocking out the sky coming at you. We ran. I ended up in an outcropping of one of the buildings, just hiding until the debris blew past. It seemed like forever. It took maybe less than a minute or whatnot of just everything being blown past.
I headed towards the corner of West and Vesey, and we started to lend a hand just bringing people around the corner, numerous injured. At that point I believe the second building came down. It was just another loud, thunderous roar and everybody just running, scurrying. No matter what was wrong with the person, you just get up and run. If you can't run, I'll carry you, whatever.
Q. Building 2 still didn't go down yet?
A. At that time, we had no idea what was going on, because we were running, and we just heard the first building coming down, so I lost track of time of when the second building was coming down. It sounded like one big rumble, and then it just sounded like it just continued, and I was -- I wasn't really paying attention. I was looking at the sound. I was looking at the smoke and everything.
I lost Chief Grant. I lost his aide. I lost my partner. These guys, I don't know where they were. I walked back towards -- when I'm walking back towards the building, that's when I ran into more
Q. This is after both buildings came down.
A. Well, we didn't know it was two. We didn't know that both of them came down. We remember hearing the rumble, and it seemed like it was a continuous rumble, so we didn't know if it was one, or two or three. We didn't know. We found out that it was both after when we walked back towards the area that we didn't see nothing standing, just the mountain of dust and debris.
Q. So you actually saw the first plane go in?
A. I heard the explosion and looked up, and then I saw it start to billow out.
In fact, when we were going over the bridge we were hearing reports on the radio that after the first tower had been hit, we heard that it was a plane that hit it. We heard that two planes hit at the same time. We didn't know if a bomb went off. We didn't know exactly what was going on. It wasn't like you could see a wing sticking out of the building. You know, it wasn't anything obvious.
There was a lot of debris on the street, but, again, like the whole point I don't really see any -- there is not a big wing or anything hanging out. For all I know, someone, you know, hid a bomb on the 80th Floor, blew it up, and, you know, I'm just seeing the remnants of everything that's going on. We don't have any specifics.
So that guy split, and I started doing the other one, the same thing, emptied it out, and started putting some stuff in there, and I heard this sound, and, you know, it wasn't until -- it wasn't until I saw the news, it wasn't until I'm able to replay events and where I was and what exactly was happening, because, like I said, as far as I know, there is only one plane that's hit at this point. I mean, it sounded like a plane coming in. It sounded like a jet engine getting ready to land on my head, you know, and I remember I started to hear it. I looked at the guy, and I said, you know, like, run, and we started hauling, and we started running down towards the 10-10 house.
I stopped. I picked up Fu. I grabbed him by the KED that we had on his waist and his hip, grabbed his shirt, and I started to drag him and looked behind me, and then it was just like "bam," and it came so fast. It was like a bomb went off, you know, and it just hit me so suddenly, you know, and it picked me up, picked me right up off my feet and threw me a good 30 feet through the air, because now you can imagine where the ambulance is.
I didn't know if people were buried. I said okay, before we leave the house, let's get a shot out here. Is there anybody out here? We're screaming, and just waiting and listening, you know, to hear if anybody responds, and nobody responded, so I said, "All right. There's nobody to dig out here." I said, "Let's get the hell out of here," you know and that's when the -- we started to hear the sound of the next tower coming down, and again, it sounded like a plane. When we were in that house, and we started hearing it coming down, I thought that this plane -- I'm thinking the third plane is hitting, you know. When we were in that house, and we started hearing it coming down, I thought that this plane -- I'm thinking the third plane is hitting, you know. Little do I know that the first plane already hit, and the second plane hit, and the tower came down, and I think the towers are still up, and I remember consciously thinking there is no way that this tower came down, because when I was out there before, and I looked up, I mean, I thought to myself, all right, the collapse zone on the structure fire is one and a half times the height of the building, which puts me somewhere back t o Brooklyn. I said, "That thing comes down, we are all dead. You know, nobody could live through that. You know, it's crazy." So like I said, after that, you know, what I think is the second plane, but was really actually the tower coming down. I mean, there is no way in the world for me that I'm thinking that this thing went down because of the damage I figure it would cause, so I think it's a plane, and again, when the Tower 1 comes down it sounds just like a plane, and it was so loud. You know, the energy of all the steel and the concrete and everything else giving way, and I guess the rush of air.
CHIEF JOSEPH PFEIFER
A. Okay. I was working the night before in the 1st Battalion, and sometime about or so in the morning we got a call to Lispenard and Church for a gas leak in the street. We were there for a while checking on the gas leak, and then we heard the loud roar of the plane come over, and we turned around and we looked and we saw the plane coming down, heading south towards the Trade Center, and made a direct hit on the Trade Center.
Q. You actually saw it hit?
A. I saw it hit. Within about ten seconds after that or so I gave the first report on the radio and transmitted a second alarm for a plane into the Trade Center, and then shortly after that, the units I was with, I told them all to start in to the Trade Center, and shortly after that I found a radio to transmit the third alarm.
Then in the lobby we heard the south tower is collapsing. I'm not sure, like I said before. I get mixed up with south and north and two and one. But right before the south building collapsed, we heard a loud rumbling noise, and those that were left in the area, we knew something was collapsing, and I noticed in the lobby area where you go around the corner to an escalator that leads up into the Customs Building, and as things were collapsing into the lobby of the north tower, I pushed everybody around the corner. I knew where I was so I pushed people around the corner.
CHIEF PETER HAYDEN
I specifically remember telling Commissioner Von Essen that we were not attempting to extinguish this fire. It's just strictly a search and rescue operation. We were not trying to put this fire out. We had thousands of people coming down the stairs, and that was our focus, to answer as many distress calls as we could and complete whatever searches we could. That was the focus of our strategy there at the time.
There were numerous discussions in the lobby. The chief of safety came in. He discussed his concern about the collapse. His advice to us was to let the building just burn, you know, get the people down and get out. We said that's exactly what we're planning to do. He said okay, do you want to get some of the apparatus moved back. I don't think that was ever accomplished.
Then suddenly the -- we didn't know what it was. We found out afterwards. There was a violent impact and the south tower collapsed while we were in the lobby of one. There was a tremendous dust cloud and debris field thrown at us.
That's about as much as I can give you. If you want specifics, I'll try to answer questions.
Q. That's fine.
A. Like I said, I don't remember -- I'm sure you probably saw a tape floating around. Did you see a tape floating around?
Q. Which tape?
A. A tape going around regarding the fire?
Q. A videotape of it?
A. If you see that, that might be able to help you out. You know, showing the plane hitting the building.
FIREFIGHTER THOMAS GABY
I said, I knew if I'd walk into the restaurant there would be a rest room there. I walked into the rest room, went to the bathroom and was just about ready to come out and I heard a rumbling sound. Now, having heard on the radio previously that there was a possibility that the elevators were letting go, I was hoping that that was what it was. As it proceeded, which seemed like a long time, but I'm sure it wasn't -- when I look at it on television, it doesn't seem to be -- I could tell that it was much worse. In my mind, I thought it was the north tower, part of it was coming down, and I felt like let me sit down, get low. I might be okay here. As it turned out, after the roar, I had absolutely no damage in that bathroom. There was no damage, there was no smoke, it just was black as night.
So basically I just told the guys come across the street, and guys were like stretching lines, I was trying to help a couple of guys that were hooking up the hydrants, I was yelling to them, come on, the Chief wants us over here, and what seemed like maybe ten minutes or whatever of trying to get the guys across the street, which we got most of them across the street, I heard a tremendous roar like I've never heard before and it sounded like a jet engine was like right over my head, like I was on a runway with a jet engine just taking off over my head. At that point I kind of looked up in the air because that's where -- and I was looking for a plane. I couldn't see anything, but I saw people running. So I said, well, this may be a good time to start running. I wasn't sure which way to run, but I watched them run and I kind of went to my right and I started running, and then there was a complete -- a blanket over me and I banged and fell down three or four times, and each time I got up, I got up with more stuff in my mouth and it was becoming more increasingly difficult to breathe.