EMT NAOMI NACIONAL
All of a sudden I heard this noise that was just horrible. I would say it sounded like a gate rattling or something like that. I look over at the people, and I go to look up. But I was sitting inside the ambulance, so not realizing that there's no way I could see. I saw nothing, but I heard it. Then I looked back, and I saw that almost everyone was gone. It was just like in a second I looked and no one was there. So I got out and I started running. That was when the second tower collapsed. It was right at the beginning of the second towers collapse.
PARAMEDIC KAREN LAMANNA
About halfway down, all of a sudden we heard screaming over the radio, “Oh, my God, oh, my God, there's another explosion, there's another plane.” My partner and I looked at each other and went, “Oh, my God we’re in trouble now.”
I no sooner throw the vehicle into park, I'm just throwing it into park, and the noise started of the first tower coming down. It was the most horrendous noise I ever heard of my life, and it's even hard for me to explain now what it sounds like. I know I’ve heard people describe it as thunderous. I'm sure it was thunderous. It was just many different things.
While we were doing that I remember hearing a plane flying overhead. I'm thinking, oh, my God, not again, not again. I looked up, we all looked up, and there were F-16’s. I was like oh, my God. We were in trouble then. Okay, that’s a first, F-16’s flying over New York.
PARAMEDIC JOEL PIERCE
That’s when we heard that sound, again, and I swear it sounded like another plane coming in, just that rumbling noise, that steadily – that continuous rumbling that was getting louder and louder, and I think the last words I had were, oh, God not another one. So we all ran. We got ourselves in this little corner right over here, right by the hexagon here, and we all just kind of cowered underneath this little overhang right up against the lobby windows. There was no place to run.
Q. The lobby windows of World Financial?
A. Financial, yes. The hexagon part.
A. There's a little corner right over here, and that’s where we basically just crowded together and kept our heads down and the rumbling noise just got immense at that point and I kind of looked up and all I saw was this huge dust cloud going right between the two buildings here, between 1 and 2, right where the – going literally between on Liberty Street, and it was just this huge wall, like this perfect wall of dust.
EMT JASON CHARLES
I grabbed her and the Lieutenant picked her up by the legs and we start walking over slowly to the curb, and then I heard an explosion from up, from up above, and I froze and I was like, oh, shit, I'm dead because I thought debris was going to hit me in the head and that was it. Then everybody stops and looks at the building and then they take off. The Lieutenant dropped her legs and ran. The triage center, everybody who was sitting there hurt and, oh, you know, help me, they got up and everybody together got up and ran. I looked at them like why are they running? I look over my shoulder and I says, oh, shit, and then I turned around and looked up and that’s when I saw the tower coming down. I saw the – it looked like the top, maybe 70, 60 floors coming off the building, and I had stood there thinking maybe the towers were not going to hit me. Then I looked closer and two pieces of the debris fly over my head about 40, 50 stories up, flying over my head, and I was like, shit, I'm out of here.
At one point – at some point, I'm not sure, but the building – that horrible twisting metal sound of a freight train or whatever – it's the worst sound in the world – stopped. But then it started again.
I was like, listen, guys, you guys got to get out of here because Tower 1 is going to fall because for some reason I had just known that the tower was going to come down at that point because when Tower 2 came down, the ground was actually shaking.
We start walking back there and then I heard a ground level explosion and I'm like holy shit, and then you heard that twisting metal wreckage again.
So I wound up in the gym. Those guys had a TV set and that’s when I found out we were under attack, because prior to that I thought Tower 2 blew up because the engine from the plane hit Tower 2 and exploded inside. It was like stupid, but that’s what I thought.
So at that point now, we were just waiting for patients and nobody was coming in. It was like, you know. Then we ran into another Lieutenant, Lieutenant Davis. I think he’s from Battalion 4, if I'm not mistaken.
(Tape side two)
-- towers and I heard six loud explosions, and those six loud explosions changed my mind real quick and I went back to the triage center and it was like you know what? Let me wait here.
CAPTAIN PAUL CONLON
He pointed to the lobby command post. Again, you could see the entrance. You can point to the lobby command post. He pointed to the entrance of Two World Trade Center. From where he was standing, you could see it. It was probably 200 yards or something. I look at it. There's burning debris everywhere. There was an engine company north of us, north of that pedestrian bridge, putting something out, putting out a car fire or a large thing of rubbish or something. There was burning debris on the ground.
We got about halfway there, and Dan Suhr gets hit with a jumper. He was right to my right and behind me. It was as if he exploded. It wasn’t like you heard something falling and you could jump out of the way. He gets hit.
FIREFIGHTER TIMOTHY BURKE
Then the building popped, lower than the fire, which I learned was I guess, the aviation fuel fell into the pit, and whatever floor it fell on heated up really bad and that’s why it popped at that floor. That’s the rumor I heard. But it seemed like I was going oh, my god, there is a secondary advice because that way the building popped I thought it was an explosion.
FIREFIGHTER ANGEL RIVERA
We reported over there. We were there about ten minutes before the chief told us go to the Marriott Hotel, go from the 14th floor up, search and evacuate all the floors. So we walk all the way up, no problem. Then we hear the explosion and debris falling. We were looking out of the windows and see body parts all over the place. It was scary. It was very sad. We searched 14, 15, went in one lobby, we came out the other way, we went in one stairway, came up -- when we hit the 19th floor, something horrendous happened. It was like a bomb went off. We thought we were dead. The whole building shook. The brick coming out of -- the door to the hallway into the hotel blew off like somebody had thrown it all over the place. It shook all over the place. We were thrown on the floor. We looked inside the lobby after everything calmed down, and everything was collapsed. The building was still shaking and we're still hearing explosions going on everywhere, so we decided let's get out of here. After we decided to get out of there, we dropped everything.
We met on that floor, and we were all safe. We were all like -- we could have been over here. What happened, we looked out of the window of the hotel, the wall, practically, because the window was all blown up. There was no way out.
Mike Mullan walked one flight up, and then the most horrendous thing happened. That's when hell came down. It was like a huge, enormous explosion. I still can hear it. Everything shook. Everything went black. The wind rushed, very slowly [sound], all the dust, all the -- and everything went dark.
When the second tower came down, we had no idea what was going on. We thought another plane, another bomb, another as a second device. We thought, this is it, we are dead. When that happened, as I told you before, everything was black. It was like being inside a storm or volcano or something, something horrendous. We said we're going to die, we're going to die, God help us.
FIREFIGHTER CRAIG DUNNE
We proceeded to go into the lobby of tower one. We got in there. The glass was down in the front. There was a gentleman -- you saw people that were jumping from the building. You had to look up and make sure you didn't get hit by any jumpers or anything. We saw a couple of people that were burnt on the outside of the building. There was a gentleman that was burnt inside when we went in.
So we stopped at 22. Lieutenant Desperito and I believe one other member of Engine 1 tried to make their way down the hallway on the 22nd floor off the B stairwell to the command post. We were there three or four minutes. The elevator shafts were blown out, so they had to make their way around -- the fire came down the elevator shafts. We were waiting, taking a breather. People were still coming down. All of a sudden we lost power in the building, and it felt like somebody was shaking the building. We didn't know what was going on, whether our building was coming down or something was shifting.
Lieutenant Desperito was with Mike Yarembinsky, and Mike was kind of waiting. He said, "Go ahead." He told us to meet outside, make sure everybody was together to meet outside and wait on the corner of Vesey and West. I believe we were there maybe two minutes, two and a half minutes. We heard the rumble, looked up, and the antenna started leaning and the whole building started pancaking towards us, coming down.
LT. THOMAS PIAMBINO
The civilian evacuation, in my opinion, was kind of orderly. They stayed to one side, and we stayed to the other side and worked our way up. I wasn't positive of what floors the fire was on. I didn't have any information. The handie-talkie information was pretty sketchy at best, and I don't know what point I heard this on the radio, but someone had said on the handie-talkie that there was a third aircraft inbound, and that is when I heard that, I specifically heard that, and at one point I guess – I don't know what -- where we were. In retrospect, I know what it was. The south tower had fallen, but at that time I didn't know what it was. All I heard was a tremendous explosion. The tower I was in shook really bad. It really shook bad, and my opinion, I thought it was another aircraft that hit the building.
We proceeded down the stairway, and we had some civilians with us, and we managed to get them down to the lobby. When I got down to the lobby – the lobby was in bad shape when I went up. It was worse when I came back down. All the elevator shaftway doors were blown out, and there was stuff coming down the -- just falling down the shafts, and the civilians had bogged down at the bottom of the stairs, because they were afraid to pass the elevator shafts, and there were piles of rubble all over the place.
We started to go north on West Street as fast as we could. We weren't running, but we were moving, walking pretty fast, and then the north tower started to fall, and my perception was that when I looked back at the tower as it was starting to come down -- I was booking -- was that there was -- I thought it exploded, and I didn't realize it had collapsed. It looked to me like an explosion, and you could feel the -- you could feel it coming, and they were still running away from it. I mean, you weren't going to out run it.
EMT EDWARD MARTINEZ
Once we were dispatched to Vesey and West Street, Vesey and West Street, upon entering the area, what we saw was like a total devastation from, I guess from the first plane that struck the tower. There were burnt cars. We saw – it was like a grayish – it was night. It was sunlight. There was a lot of light. It was a sunny clear day, but in that area it was a grayish area. The sun wasn’t shining. It was like a fog, like a big fog. We saw like I said, burned vehicles, some of them were on fire.
I was talking to him when I heard a loud, like a roaring noise, like a loud loud roaring noise. At the time I didn’t know what it was. I just looked up. All I could see because of the fog was there, you couldn’t see above. Your distance was limited. Once I heard that, I heard like a big explosion, a tremendous explosion, let me put it that way and a rumbling sound.
I got slapped down on the ground. Everything was hitting me, whatever was falling. At the time I didn’t know what it was. I thought maybe that the building that was on fire exploded. I didn’t know. I found out later on that the second plane had hit another building, the second tower.
There was a lot going on. There was a lot of noise. I remember hearing still a lot of noise. I don’t know if things were still falling, but all of a sudden we heard another rumbling sound and again with the smoke, you saw the smoke coming down and everybody just ran towards safety.
EMT BENJAMIN BADILLO
About 5 minutes after just sitting there, I hear this really bad thundering sound. I didn’t know what it was. It just sounded like thunder, but it was like different. When I look up into the sky, out of curiosity, I don’t know what made me look. I could see the top of the building coming down. I paused for a second or two. When I took my eyes off the building and back to the ground, I could see officers and a lot of people just running into the building, so I did the same thing, like any reasonable person would do, trying to save their own life. I ran inside – I don’t know if it was the Marriott Hotel or – I don’t know if the Marriott is shown here,
Q. I believe it's in here. It used to be the Vista.
A. Yes, I don’t remember if it was the Marriott or the building right next to it, because there were two buildings right near to each other. But as soon as I ran into the building, I took a right. I was just trying to get as deep into the building as I could in the lobby. A few officers ran in there and civilians ran in there with us. As soon as I made the right, I tried to hide under a security desk and you could just hear everything come down. As soon as everything came down, the lobby and the lights – the lobby filled up with smoke and debris. The lights went off. You couldn’t see anything. It was completely dark. It was a really loud noise. I can't even describe it. But it was a really horrific nasty noise.
They told me to get inside the vehicle and about two minutes later, we made a U turn heading south, because he was coming up north and then he made a U turn going south again, down towards Battery Park, and I could hear the second rumble and I already knew what it was. I knew it was the second building collapsing.
FIREFIGHTER MICHAEL BYRNE
We went down and parked on Church and Vesey off from the north tower under that pedestrian walkway. We went into the tower, we were in the lobby a couple minutes. There was only one chief there. We really had no direction what to do. Captain Burke decided we would either go up on our own or wait for someone. We went up, started our way up. We went to the bank of elevators. We pulled a lady out of the bank, one of the banks. We used a rabbit tool. Most of the banks were blown off. The doors were charred and dismembered, some of them.
We walked up three more flights to the 27th floor. I don't know the time we were up there for, but however long we were up there, that's when the other building came down. We didn't know it at the time. The whole building shook. We hit the floor. Guys were saying, "Pop the door. Pop the door. Pop the door." It stopped. No smoke, no nothing. We thought something was coming down the hallway, maybe. Again, I don't know the time frame from that time that elapsed. We got a report maybe 69th floor, 64th floor, partial collapse. After that -- there was one chief, I believe, up there. I'm not sure. He told us to start our way down, make your way down, everybody out.