General Nursing, Psychiatry

Never Forget – September 11, 2001

Psychiatric Hospital, Tuesday, September 11, 2001 – Connecticut

I walked across the campus of the psychiatric hospital where I was working as a Nurse Practitioner on my first day back from a week of vacation. I wondered if the workload would be extra heavy today. After visiting my family in Ohio, I caught my connecting flight in Washington, DC and flew over New York City before landing here yesterday. Today sparkled with a clear blue sky. I admired the blooming flowers beside the walkway as I unlocked the door and entered the unit.

After completing several physical exams on the new patients who had been admitted overnight, I left the building and walked toward the next building. I met Dr. Adam, covering today for my boss. I always enjoyed working with Dr. Adam since he loved to teach and share his latest research findings with me.

“Pam, the janitor just told me that a plane flew into the World Trade Center in New York City.”

“Are you sure?” I learned to double-check anything I heard at a psychiatric hospital since it was often unreliable information.

“Let’s go turn on the TV in the health clinic since there are no patients there right now.”

We could not believe our eyes as they showed the smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center. All of a sudden, the newscaster said, “Oh no! Another plane just hit the other tower!” We stared in disbelief and shock.

After about an hour, we continued our rounds on the other units. Neither of us wanted to be alone in the midst of this uncertainty when no one understood what was happening. The hospital director asked the staff to turn off all the TVs on the units so the patients wouldn’t become upset. A number of them were psychotic (out of reality) or going through alcohol or heroin withdrawal. The children and teens had all been through so much trauma in their short lives that they didn’t need any additional stress. Not even the adults understood what was happening. Since we were located two hours from New York City, some of the patients may have family members affected by the crisis. I could hardly believe that I had just flown through Washington DC and over New York City the day before.

As the day wore on, we heard that the Pentagon had been hit and another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. When would it end and who was doing this? There were so many questions and no clear answers in all the confusion. As soon as my workday ended, I drove home while listening intently to the radio. Upon my arrival, I turned on my television and watched the scenes unfold in shock and sadness. I prayed for all those involved and for the rescuers at the sites. All the planes had been grounded in and out of the entire country.

Friday, September 14, 2001

So much has happened this week. The mood on the hospital campus is as dreary as the rainy weather. I decided to drive across the bridge to the next town to get some lunch to try and get away from the bleakness for a short time. I listened to the radio to see if they had recovered any more survivors from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. I stopped at the red light and looked to the left before turning right on the bridge. There was no one coming, so I slowly started turning. As I looked straight ahead, suddenly a man and a woman stood in front of my bumper. I slammed on my brakes and then turned off my car.

My heart raced at the horror of having hit two pedestrians. I approached the couple and asked if they were hurt. The woman sat on the curb, glared at me, and started screaming, “WHY DID YOU HIT US? DIDN’T YOU SEE US?” I quickly dialed 911 on my cell phone. The ambulance came within a few minutes along with the police who wrote down the information. The woman refused to go to the hospital, so the ambulance left. The policeman pulled me aside and said, “This couple hangs out on this corner often and hides behind the tree. Then they jump out in front of a car as it begins to turn so the driver will hit them. Then they collect insurance money.” My blood boiled to think they had done this numerous times. I silently prayed and asked God to quiet my heart. After receiving my ticket, I returned to work and contacted my insurance company.

The woman sued my insurance company about six months later for back pain. She was awarded an undisclosed amount of money out of court. But my encounter with them was nothing compared to what others suffered on September 11, 2001.

Nearly 3000 people died and 6000 were wounded that day. An entire generation has been born since then. I visited the Flight 93 Memorial in southern Pennsylvania where 40 brave crew and passengers attacked the terrorists and took down the plane in a grassy field to prevent it from flying into the Capital building in Washington, DC.

Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania

No one except God knows how many days we have remaining here on earth. How I thank God that He would have all men to be saved for eternity. Just like those 40 men and women gave their lives to spare others, Jesus Christ died in our place on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins so all those who receive Him as Savior will not perish.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)

If you have not received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I pray you would receive Him now. He wants to give you eternal life and have a personal relationship with you for all eternity.

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