9/11 Stories

Lou Kunkin

I am a civilian EMT who volunteers in Linden N.J. I am also the operations director of an art gallery in New York’s Soho district.

On the morning of September 11, I was working out in a gym on Mercer street when the first plane was flown into the World Trade Center, by the time the second plane hit I was already on my way to the site, with my ID I was directed to the command center on West street and was assigned to the first of the stretchers that were assembled there in preparation to enter the building. The fire captain was just relaying the message to us that the first victims would be down in no more than two minutes when the tower collapsed burying us.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first rescuer / victims, to be pulled from under the rubble (in front of the American Express building on West Street), just before our oxygen would have been exhausted, I immediately inquired of the three firemen that came to my rescue as to where I could be of use and was just approaching the command truck on the North side of the complex when the command was given to fall back as the second tower collapsed.

I returned to the site on Wednesday and Thursday and helped man the triage station on Chambers and West Streets, I am sure you are painfully aware of just how little there was for us to do. Some people have told me my actions were heroic, I feel they were anything but.

I became an EMT after having my life saved by an ambulance crew that happened to be in the right place at the right time for me as, I had my foot severed in a freak accident during the NYC Five Boro Bike Tour. I also wanted to be able to make a difference, unfortunately due to the unimaginable depth of this disaster,we were not able to make that much of a difference, and it is this futility that makes us feel inadequate.

As of this writing I have not been able to reach out and thank the three firemen who overcame what had to be the mind numbing experience of witnessing the collapse and still be able to function if anyone reading this story can make this connection I would be extremely grateful.

Lou Kunkin EMT