I was fortunate and honored to be part of the team of those who provided healthcare and on-site rehab servivces to the first responders and local/federal officials that had the horribly delicate task of sifting through the Shanksville crash site. On day 2, we watched silently, as buses rolled up to the site one day. It was the families of the Flight 93 heroes who were transported to the site to view the tragedy for the first time. The makeshift road took them to a barrier made of bales of hay that looked over the smoldering remains and hole in the ground that was the result of the crash. We watched in silence as the families placed their memorial items on top of those hay bales.
I will remember those days forever. Taking the blood pressures, dressing the wounds, assessing the chronic ailments of the agents, inspectors, heavy equipment operators, etc. that entered the crash site, the Hot-Zone, in the morning, took breaks at lunch time, re-entered the Hot-Zone for the afternoon and then called it a day just before dusk. I will never forget the dedication on the workers’ faces each time they passed through the check-up area…despite their blisters, sores and muscle aches.
This hat? Delegates from United Airlines distributed hats, like the one above, to the healthcare providers at the site, as a token of appreciation, the day that they escorted the families on the buses. Side note: local grade school kids made the ribbon pins and had them delivered to the site for the workers. So this hat means the world to me. It represents the ultimate in sadness and the ultimate in goodness at the same time.
God bless those who perished that day and God bless those who spent many hot, grueling hours crawling around that site on their hands and knees, climbing in trees and digging through the mess, searching for evidence and items to give back to the families.