Voices of 9/11 rescuers heard at last

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Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Voices of 9/11 rescuers heard at last

Emergency workers' harrowing accounts released after legal fight

Jamie Wilson in Washington
Saturday August 13, 2005
The Guardian

More than 12,000 pages of often harrowing oral histories and 15 hours of radio transmissions from emergency workers who rushed to the World Trade Centre on September 11 were released by the City of New York yesterday.
The histories, compiled in the months after the tragedy, are made up of the recollections of 503 firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians whose actions saved an unknown number of civilians, but cost 343 firefighters their lives.
The records, including a written log of calls to the 911 system, many from trapped office workers, were released as a result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Times and some families of victims under freedom of information law.
They detail the horror, confusion and heroics of September 11; and while some critics said the documents would be a painful reminder of the loss and chaos, others hoped they would cast additional light on serious flaws in the city's response to the attacks.
In one oral history, a firefighter whose engine was sent to the north tower - the first to be struck and the second to collapse - described rushing up a stairway as people were coming down. Kirk Long said: "I was watching every person coming down, looked at their face, just to make them happy that they were getting out and we were going in, and everything was OK."
He remembered hearing the north tower shake and thought something in the basement had exploded. "At that time I never knew the south tower had gone down," he said. He recalled leaving the north tower and being helped to a nearby building that had clean air.
"There was a lot of mothers and babies there," he said. "I was leaving and they started to cry. They didn't want me to go without them. So I stayed for maybe 10 or 15 minutes until it cleared up a little bit. Then I walked them over to the west side, where there were boats and fresh air."
The oral histories were initially gathered on the order of Thomas Von Essen, the city fire commissioner on September 11, who said he wanted to preserve the accounts before they became reshaped by a collective memory.
The New York fire department said at least 450 relatives of firefighters killed in the collapse of the towers have requested copies, which they received by mail yesterday.
Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, told the Associated Press: "I think unfortunately it's going to add to some pain, initially _ When people actually go back to that raw, emotional, historical moment, I think they'll realise that a lot of our members, both living and deceased, did some extraordinary things that day."
Independent investigations with access to the documents have described worrying flaws in the city's response. Emergency radios did not function properly; police and firefighters did not work together; discipline broke down and vital messages went unheard.
In another oral history released, Lieutenant Howard Hahn described using his mobile phone but said his fire department radio was barely functioning. "I was able to get through, but the transmissions were very hard...You're basically doing your own show."
Some families and other critics of the city's response hope the new documents will help challenge the conclusion that many firefighters in the north tower heard, but heroically chose to ignore, an evacuation message issued after the south tower collapsed.
Glenn Corbett, a professor of fire science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he believed that outdated radios meant firefighters did not receive the message. He said he did not find it credible that perhaps hundreds of firefighters ignored a mayday message.
"I'm going to look for the people saying that in those transcripts," he said. "I don't believe it."
The New York Times sought the records under the freedom of information law in 2002, but the city refused, claiming that releasing the information would violate firefighters' privacy and jeopardise the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty in April to six counts of conspiring with the September 11 hijackers.
The newspaper was joined by families of some of the victims in suing the city. New York's highest court ruled in March that the city had to release the oral histories and recordings but could excise potentially painful and embarrassing portions.

clear up- przejaśniać się
collapse- zawalić się, runąć
compile- zestawiać, opracowywać
credible- wiarygodny
deceased- zmarły, nieboszczyk
extraordinary- nadzwyczajny, niezwykły
harrowing- meczący, nieprzyjemny, kłopotliwy
independent- niezależny
initially- początkowo
investigation- dochodzenie, śledztwo
issue- wydawać
jeopardise- zagrażać, , wystawiać na niebezpieczeństwo
lawsuit- powództwo, proces, sprawa sądowa
mayday- międzynarodowy sygnał radiowy wzywania pomocy
plead guilty- przyznać się do winy
recollection- wspomnienie
release- ukazac się
reminder- przypomnienie, pamiątka
request- prosić
vital- żywotny, istotny

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