Primary Category: Inspiration/Self-Help
Secondary Category: Memoir
The following excerpt is from Chiefs, Pawns & Warriors: A Memoir of Firefighter Ron Parker’s 9/11 Experience by Ron Parker
“I got passed the debris and joined back up with the other firefighters at the muster station on Broadway about 30 minutes after the time I originally left. It looked like the chiefs were making progress with crating teams and sending them out. Finally, we get a group and get assigned to some lieutenant I never heard of. Each team had their own space to cover. Ours was down Trinity Place right past the church near the North Tower. I recognized Billy O’Connor, a 20 year vet from my new firehouse, and we quickly partnered up on the walk down to our group’s assigned location. Although I had already been there once on my own, I made sure to take a lot more photos to document everything and study it later. Besides, there was so much going on that I was seeing things on this second walk down there that I had missed the first time-like cadaver dogs.
Shortly after the attacks there were cadaver dogs out on The Pile. They were so confused because the smell of smoke and death was all around them instead of being in concentrated areas. They walked in circles trying to to pinpoint individual people in distress or already deceased. Their handlers would not release them and stayed close by with the aid of a leash. I imagined that they were concerned about losing the dogs in one of the many crevices that the canines would squeeze into while they were following different scents. As they walked around it wasn’t unusual to hear yelps of pain and see them quickly lick their paws after they were cut open with the exposed pieces of glass or sharp edged steel. I couldn’t watch. It was killing me.
Once we reached our assigned are we used a rope to tie ourselves together at the waist. This was called a search line. It helped us stay together although we couldn’t see each other. It’s easy to get disoriented and not know how to get back out if you are on your own, but when you’re tied to other firefighters and moving in a line it’s easier to account for everybody and simply back up to get out. When we went into the buildings we knew that people were in there because we could hear clambering, but I couldn’t see much. Usually when we go in and out of buildings we have our own Scott air masks. But we didn’t have any of that this time, our supplies were limited. So we were just hoping to take a sip of air here and there and hope that things don’t go south real fast before you could get out of there.”
(c) Ron Parker. All rights reserved.