With a solemnness I have not reserved for any of my other posts, today I would like to remember September 11, 2001. As I listened to the names this morning of those we lost eleven years ago, this day stood vidid in my memory. Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such a horrific tragedy on American soil and I hope never again. I would especially like to remember today our fellow nurses who were involved in organizing an effort for aiding the wounded during this fateful day.
Thank you to those of you who saved lives, who sprung into action and used your training in a time of need. To those of you who stepped outside of your usual roles and took initiative to organize massive efforts to save lives, your efforts have not gone unnoticed even eleven years later. Major Lorie A. Brown, chief nurse at the TRICARE Health Clinic located in the Pentagon, remembers September 11, 2001. She recalls that the primary care clinic was open and she did not even feel the impact of the plane hitting the building. The lights did not even flicker. Suddenly, patients began streaming into the clinic with burns and head wounds. Maj. Brown’s supervisor was not there. Immediately, Maj. Brown began to take charge managing the scene. She initiated a triage system identifying patients in immediate need of medical attention. She initiated the MASCAL (mass casualties event system) calling in reinforcements and putting a well rehearsed disaster plan into action. She engaged civilians passing by in SUV’s to transport patients to higher level medical facilities in safer locations as ambulances were not available no doubt saving numerous lives.
At the same time, another nurse, nursing professor Elizabeth Ayello, was busy organizing her own relief effort. Ayello witnessed the plane fly into the World Trade Center. After calling her husband to ensure he was safe, she sprang into action. Ayello drove to New York University where her class for the day was to be held, gathered her nursing students and helped organize blood donation efforts. “Soon”, she says, “there was a two-and-a-half-hour wait to give blood”. “We as nurses have the wonderful opportunity to be able to do something, and we instinctively know what needs to be done” she says. Ayello recalls that as first her students were nervous they would not be able to preform what was needed of them however they rose to the occasion.
I am so proud of all the Americans involved in the relief efforts of September 11, 2011. There are countless stories recalling the valor and resourcefulness of seemingly everyday Americans. Thank you to all of the nurses who acted quickly and courageously during our country’s greatest time of need. We will never forget you.