Wave of Emergency Care
Marc Grossman ’93 was standing on the roof of his Manhattan
home watching the Twin Towers burn when he realized he needed
to get to work at the Jersey City Medical Center, one of the
major trauma centers closest to the financial district. When
he reached the Holland Tunnel to cross the Hudson River into
Jersey City, a police officer told him that the passage hadn’t
been checked yet for bombs, and that doctors were more likely
needed at the disaster site.
Grossman headed for the burning towers.
“I was driving on Broadway and all these people came running
toward me and police were yelling, ‘Get back! Get back!’” Grossman
says. “I threw my car into reverse and backed up about five
blocks as I saw the building collapse in front of me. It was
like a tidal wave of smoke and debris that engulfed everything.
My car was shaking like there was an earthquake. I started thinking,
‘I’m not going to do any good here if I die,’ and that’s really
what I thought was happening.” So he headed back to the Holland
Tunnel and spoke with the same police officer. The tunnel was
still closed and considered a danger, but Grossman was allowed
to proceed and took the chance. “My car was the only one in
the whole tunnel and I was driving like 90 miles per hour, fearing
that a bomb would go off and the tunnel would collapse around
me,” he remembers.
Dr. Marc Grossman
The Twin Towers burn in the distance from Dr. Marc Grossmans
When Grossman reached the medical center, he joined hundreds
of emergency room personnel in preparing for the arrival of
the most severe cases from the World Trade Center. In the first
wave, hospital staff treated eight critical patients who were
burned severely or crushed by debris, and assisted scores of
others with respiratory problems and less severe injuries. Emergency
care-givers saw a total of 175 patients within a 4-hour period,
Grossman says. “Then, all of a sudden, we stopped getting patients.”
To find out why no more victims were coming
in, Grossman and another doctor drove to the triage center along
the Jersey Aide of the Hudson River, where ferries were transporting
injured people from Manhattan. “They said the only people getting
across on the ferry were going straight to Ellis Island, which
had been set up as a makeshift morgue,” Grossman says. “That
meant they had transported everybody who was still living, and
everyone else was dead.”
SU SAFETY ADMINISTRATOR MICHAEL RYAN
won’t soon forget the 32 hours he spent on Staten Island with
a search and recovery team, sifting through debris from the
World Trade Center. “It opened my eyes to the magnitude of deaths
that can occur as the result of terrorism,” Ryan says. “It also
enlightened me about my job here on campus. I need to review
our programs on an ongoing basis to make sure that our people
are ready for anything that could happen.”
a volunteer firefighter with the Solvay, New York, fire department,
trained in major disaster response as part of a fire service
course created after the Oklahoma City bombing. He and other
firefighters who took the course were called to New York City
to help with the World Trade Center rescue and recovery efforts.
Arriving September 14, Ryan was assigned to work on Staten Island,
a secondary staging area where rescuers are examining debris.
Within two weeks of the attacks, an estimated 101,164 tons of
debris were taken to the Staten Island landfill. Law enforcement
officials say the evidence collection process there could last
as long as a year.
After the experience, Ryan returned to campus with a new outlook.
“I’m hoping we can get more training for people here at the
University so that more people are aware of what could happen
in the face of disaster,” he says. “And if anything happened
at the University, hopefully, we’d be ready.”