An EMS professional understands that the job comes with a high level of danger. Domestic violence, combative patients, the aftermath of an accident or a violent crime are confronted daily. The knowledge that every single day on the job will bring trauma and violence takes a toll on personal health, and death can come in the line of duty. In fact, between 1995 and September 10, 2001, there were three line-of-duty deaths of New York City EMS personnel.
Since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 another level of danger has been added which has had a dramatic effect on many who were involved with the tragedy. First, eight EMS personnel died during the collapse of the World Trade Center -- five more deaths than during the preceding five years combined. Following the disaster, EMS personnel were heavily involved in the search effort, spending day after day sifting through debris and body parts, hoping to find their friends but instead often finding only bodies, guilt, and disillusionment.
The job they did at Ground Zero was Herculean, and it inspired people throughout the world. Their sacrifice was so great - so visibly painful - that the rest of us were able only look to them with awe. We built mountains of flowers on the sidewalks, lit thousands of candles, and hugged them while we told them of our gratitude. They were our heroes. »more