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Alumni react to the attacks:
Read their first-person accounts

 

Dawn Goodlove

 

Ostovar volunteered at the World Trade Center site
on Sept. 12 and 13.
His full remarks can be found at http://www.cornellcollege.edu/message_boards/.

Medical student Herald Ostovar '93 (left) was teamed with a doctor on his second night of volunteering at Ground Zero.  

I put on my scrubs, grabbed my stethoscope, penlight, shears, and hospital ID card. By 7 p.m. I had been able to make it as far south as Fourth Street using the subway. I clearly remember the first smell as I stepped off the subway—an acrid smell of ozone and burning plastic. I was immediately struck by the silence. The only sound was the beeping of dump trucks in the distance along with the occasional somber “hello” of a passer-by. The streets got progressively darker until I reached the main checkpoint with lots of police, lots of media, lots of people. I walked up, nervous, flashed my IDs and said,“I'm with the American College of Emergency Physicians.” Not only was I really a member, but I thought it
sounded really good too.

The next thing I knew I was thrust into a world that I would never forget. I was able to find one of the two triage units in the area—all the other units had been converted to morgues. I was even lucky enough to bump into some other medical students and we banded together. We were assigned posts and then we waited. The only injuries we treated all night were those of the rescue workers, no victims. Only body parts were being found.

The medical students all felt literally helpless, so we decided to jump in and help with the rescue effort. We grabbed work gloves, goggles and
breathing masks and headed up the mountain of debris. There were literally hundreds, if not thousands of firemen, EMTs, police, construction workers, nurses, doctors, and other rescue workers spread out like a sea of yellow and blue on this mountain of rubble. There were people from all over the country and even the world helping. We somehow ended up at the front of one of these lines, right next to the crater. Sledgehammers, shovels, crowbars, steel clippers, steel cutting saws, acetylene torches, fiber-optic cameras, and
canine units were all utilized at some point by all the teams. Every so often a team would yell, “Quiet!” and hundreds of workers would echo that call until it became absolutely silent—they were listening for any sounds coming from underneath the rubble. At one point one of the canine units signaled a specific area and fiber-optic cameras showed a leg underneath two feet of rubble. We dug feverishly for an hour only to realize the grimmest of our fears—it was just a leg, mangled and shattered. The digging stopped, and silently, the firefighter across from me picked it up. We dusted it off gently. It was placed in a bucket and
passed on.

By now it was 6:30 a.m. I had to walk those same 30 blocks back to the train station, but somehow they seemed a little less dark—not because the sun was coming up, but because I felt I had done a part, however insignificant, in helping get to those who might still be alive in the rubble.

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