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    Posted July 20, 2011 by
    Wilmington, Delaware
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Share your 9/11 story

    More from firststate

    Never broadcast 9/11 footage


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     firststate sends us this footage of rescue operations after the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. At the time of the attacks, he was a volunteer firefighter/EMT and a documentary filmmaker focusing on disasters and major emergencies. On the morning of 9-11, he was contacted by Battalion Chief Ray Downey, head of special operations for FDNY. 'He simply indicated that he had a working fire in #1 World Trade Center and that it would be extremely valuable to videotape for training.' He adds, 'I didn't learn of the subsequent 757 crash or the collapse of both towers until I stopped for fuel along the New Jersey Turnpike.' There, a group of truckers recognized his Nomex jumpsuit and motioned him over to a small TV. 'Bad day for you guys,' one said.

    That evening, he hooked up with retired FDNY Battalion Chief and dog handler Sarah Atlas, whose partner was barking at a scent. 'Although we had no heavy equipment, we began to dig through layers of concrete, wall board, frames and twisted steel -- with our hands. I worked on this and similar bucket brigades during my sixteen days at Ground Zero,' he says.

    firststate's tells us about one memory that remains as vivid as his videos, 'I recall a group of 12-15 firefighters who found the body of a colleague buried under about 10 feet of debris. He had been wearing his fire turnout gear, which kept his body relatively intact. I shot from a distance but I could clearly see the look of emptiness in their faces. It was a very solemn event with a fire chaplain saying last rites before the body was placed in a black bag and driven [...] to the temporary morgue.'

    'I recall that many of us would go to St. Paul's Chapel to get away from the smoke and stench at Ground Zero. They offered food, music and hugs. I especially remember the hugs. Food an water was plentiful thanks to the unaffiliated volunteers who snuck past security lines to bring food and drink to rescue workers. Some nights I slept on the hose beds of fire engines, or in the lobby of a closed bank building. One night we were bused to The Plaza, where an Arab sheik had purchased all of the rooms in the hotel for emergency responders,' he says.
    - elchueco, CNN iReport producer

    What was it really like at Ground Zero? Take a few minutes to view these video clips that I shot while working as a rescuer and documentarian at the disaster site during the press embargo placed by Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The vast majority of this footage has never been broadcast in the United States and was used primarily for emergency service training.


    These clips are dedicated to the men and women who served at the worst emergency scene imaginable -- firefighters, law enforcement, medics, military, moms and faith based groups -- united as one group, and bound by a common goal.

    Lou Angeli


    Camera original: Digital 720x480 (Sony PDA150)

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