Saturday, May 30, 2009

Interesting Coding Issue in the Transcript of Dr. Glenn Asaeda

File No. 9110062
Interview Date: October 11, 2001
Transcribed by Nancy Francis
from the Bureau of Administration. It's October llth,
2001. We're in the south conference room at Fire
Department Headquarters. It is 1536 hours and I am
joined by. . .
Commissioner Jim Drury.
MR. McALLISTER: And . . .
DR. ASAEDA: Glenn Asaeda, M.D., Deputy
Medical Director with the Fire Department Medical
Q. DR. ASAEDA, I'd like to draw your attention
to September the llth, 2001, and get your recollections
of that day, if we could.
A. Yes. I was actually one of the physicians
for the Office of Medical Affairs that was coming on
duty as the on-call medical director for the system and
was actually headed to Manhattan for an unrelated
sexual assault task force meeting. I was actually on
the Long Island Expressway going towards the Midtown
Tunnel when I happened to look over to my left and
actually did see one of the towers, what appeared to
look like one of the top floors kind of smoking, but
from my angle, there were four smokestacks, I guess on
the Brooklyn side or the Manhattan side, just in front
of the towers, to a point where it looked like it was
actually smoke from the smokestacks, and I thought at
that point, wow, that's interesting, it really makes
the tower look like it's on fire.
I had just taken a bioterrorism course that
the Fire Department had offered, I think a month or two
months before downstairs, and at that time the
instructor from the federal government had said, do you
know how to tell if it's a good day for bioterrorism?
We had not known and they had explained to us that by
looking at the smoke from the smokestack you can tell.
If it rises straight into the air and dissipates, it's
a bad day for bioterrorism, good for the people because
what happens is anything released would go into the
air, we wouldn't breathe it in. A good day for
bioterrorism but bad for citizens would be a day where
the smoke seems to kind of hover, even come to the
ground, anything released could actually be inhaled.
So, as I looked at that, I thought, oh, potentially
this is a good day for bioterrorism. I was just
thinking that off the top of my head.
Then, as I was in traffic, I saw the car next
to me honking, flashing its lights, and often in a
marked car I get that. Can you tell me how to get to
Bellevue Hospital? Can you tell me where the corner of
this and that is? So I didn't think much of it. I
rolled down the window only to hear the driver say, did
you see the plane hit the World Trade Center? At that
point I realized it was a real situation, looked back
at the tower and thought, oh, my God, and for some
reason I felt why is the Citywide radio so quiet? I
didn't come to realize that, when I actually stopped
for coffee initially, I had forgotten to put the
Citywide back on. On my car it just doesn't
automatically go on.
Almost afraid to push the Citywide button, I
pressed it, got the radio to go on and it came to life,
and I hear the first thing, confirmed aircraft into the
World Trade Center tower, send me everything you've
got, and this is hard hat operation. As soon as I
heard that, I actually got on the cell phone with
Commissioner Claire.
Q. Do you think that was the first or the second
plane that had hit?
A. That was the first plane.
Q. Okay.
A. At that point, realizing that Commissioner
Claire was actually in Albany for a state EMS meeting,
I actually dug into my bag, got his cell phone number,
just to let him know, called him on the cell phone, and
at that point I was told, I'm watching it, I'm seeing
it on TV right now. Do me a favor and when you get in
on scene, give me another report. So I said okay, I
acknowledged that and started to roll in. At that
point, also, as I'm rolling, I called my wife just to
let her know that the plane had hit the tower, I'm
going to go in, just watch it on the news.
Probably about three minutes from the tunnel,
I ducked into the tunnel with traffic with the lights
and siren, and at that point didn't realize until later
that communications was lost for me. I didn't know
about the second aircraft. I think I had 1010 WINS on
trying to hear the news. In the tunnel, I didn't hear
any of that as well. I just remember, when I popped
out of the tunnel, that my adrenaline was so pumped, I
thought to myself, you've got to calm down, you've got
to relax a little bit and just concentrate on doing
what you have to do.
As I popped out of the tunnel, emergency
vehicles, marked and unmarked, from every aspect, just
in front of me, to the side of me, behind me, and I
realized that this is something I need to really be
careful as to how I'm driving because we're not usually
accustomed to so many vehicles going in one place.
Doctor, you said the tunnel. Which tunnel?
DR. ASAEDA: The Midtown Tunnel.
A. At this point almost a convoy of emergency
vehicles were going towards the World Trade Center.
Since I was on the east side, I continued all the way
down. As soon as I got towards the Brooklyn Bridge, I
could see more closely the smoke and just thousands of
people were just kind of running, walking towards the
Brooklyn Bridge.
Q. Were both of the buildings standing at that
point in time?
A. Yes, they were.
Q. Okay.
A. Again, still I had not realized about the
second plane hitting the tower. Also, because of the
bioterrorism course and just the threats, I'm thinking
to myself, I had just imagined that it was a single
engine Cessna type of plane, not knowing it was a
commercial airlines by any means. I kept thinking also
to myself, be careful, it still could be terrorism, it
could be bioterrorism, they could have had some kind of
chemicals and biological agents on board. I kept
thinking don't go downwind, don't go downwind. But
because of the flow of people, the direction that I was
hoping to take ended up putting me further south, which
actually put me directly downwind, and I remember
thinking to myself, oh, my God, this is where I don't
want to be. I turned off the air-conditioner, holding
my breath, as if that would work, thinking do you know
what? You're in the worst place.
As I rounded the corner, more emergency
vehicles now on the West Side Highway trying to get
north towards the towers, the next car that I saw
coming next to me was Chief Downey's vehicle.
Q. So you drove all the way south down the east
side and looped around --
A. Correct.
Q. -- at the Battery and headed up West Street?
A. Correct. Because there were too many people
coming directly east. I knew that I couldn't go that
way. So as I rounded the bend by the ferry, got back
onto the west side, the next unmarked car that I saw
was Chief Downey. Now, I don't think he was driving
because I don't think I could have seen him that
clearly, but I remember that he looked in towards the
window of my vehicle, he smiled and actually waved, and
I actually remember saying verbally, hey, chief,
knowing that he couldn't hear me. But I particularly
remember Chief Downey because I've had the opportunity
of going on FEMA deployments with him to the Dominican
Republic and joining him when the Japanese firefighters
had come by, they wanted to speak to the S.O.C. chief
and whatnot. So he was I remember physically one of
the last people that I had known recognizing going to
the scene.
As the first convoy had gone in front of me,
I actually diverted my vehicle to two ambulances that I
had seen right under the south walkway bridge. I saw
two ambulances, Fire Department ambulances, pulled up
next to them and said--
Q. That's the south bridge that crosses the West
Side Highway?
A. Correct. The one that's still intact.
Q. Right?
A. Or was still intact. At that point, I pulled
up next to the ambulances. I asked them, is this the
command post? They said no, it wasn't. I said, who
set you up here? I believe they were EMTs. I don't
think they were medics. They had said, there's so many
people running this way, we felt this was a good area
to be in. I said, it sounds good, just make sure to
let a lieutenant know where you are so he can account
for everyone, and I asked them, do you happen to know
where the command post is? They directed me to in
front of 1 World Trade Center on the West Side
Also, at this point I noticed just women's
shoes all over. I guess they had taken them off to
run. I guess they couldn't run in the heels and
Q. That was on West Street?
A. That was on West Street and even previously,
coming around from the east side to the west side, just
shoes all over, it was just interesting to see that,
along with the debris.
directed to the command center on West Street across
from 1 World Trade?
DR. ASAEDA: Correct.
fact reach that command post?
DR. ASAEDA: Yes, I did.
front of the World Financial Center?
DR. ASAEDA: Yes, it was.
A. So as I pulled my vehicle, I realized that
the West Side Highway had a lot of emergency vehicles.
I couldn't actually get onto that. I went up the
service road the wrong way with just the lights on, no
siren at this point, saw the people gathering, I would
say, 30 to 40 feet in front of the stairs of the World
Financial Center. I think they call it the American --
I don't know if that's the same as the American Express
Building or whatnot.
Q. No. 3 World Financial?
A. I would guess it would be 2, but I'm not sure
of the number.
Q. The American Express Building?
A. Yes, the World Financial. I remember parking
my car on Vesey and West on the corner, it was the
northwest corner. There were emergency vehicles there
as well. I was on the end double-parked and I thought
to myself, I don't want to block anyone. Again, not
realizing the magnitude of what was about to happen, I
thought to myself, I still have a meeting to go to in
about half an hour, so once I figure out what's going
on here and everything settles, I still need to be able
to pull my vehicle to go to the meeting. So I parked
my vehicle, remembered that it was a hard hat
operation, grabbed my helmet, grabbed my jacket and
proceeded to the command post.
While I was en route to the site, I actually
remember hearing the other physician's vehicle
designation arrive on scene, so I knew that he was on
seen probably about five to seven minutes before I had
Q. Who was that?
A. That was Dr. Cherson.
Q. Okay.
A. So I made it a point to, once reporting to
the command post just to find out what was going on, to
see if I could find the other physician as well. Since
he was the previous physician on call and first on the
scene, I figured I would let him take the lead and let
him direct me as to where he wanted me to go.
was it now, do you know, doctor, approximately?
DR. ASAEDA: This must have been, I would
say -- it turns out it was after the second aircraft
had crashed but before the first building. I don't
remember the exact time of the second plane, but 9:10,
9:15, somewhere in that time frame.
A. But even at this point, I still didn't
realize that a plane had hit. Again, being so close
and looking up, I couldn't even see the other building
really from where I was standing. I walked over to the
command post. At that point I remember seeing a piece
of debris fall from the north tower, literally past us,
and hit the World Financial Center behind us and come
down, and the only reason I saw that is everyone was
kind of looking up going, whoa! I kind of looked up
and I thought, wow, this is very close.
By the same token, I had looked up at the
same time and noticed what I thought was debris turning
out to be people, and at first I just couldn't imagine
it would be people, but as they landed I was pretty
sure it was people. I thought, well, they must be
unconscious or falling out. Upon looking closer, there
were some people t h a t seemed t o be on f i r e coming down,
some t h a t looked l i k e rag d o l l s coming down, but a t
l e a s t 70 percent of them a c t u a l l y f l a i l e d u n t i l they
h i t t h e ground and one, I mean, they looked l i k e a n t s
from t h e d i s t a n c e we were a t , but a c t u a l l y looking l i k e
he or she wanted t o get t o t h e next window.
I remember thinking under my b r e a t h and
saying out loud t h a t I could hear myself, I go, oh, my
God, p l e a s e , no, no, no, no, and they were jumping.
I ' v e seen people, you know, I ' v e worked as a paramedic
i n t h e p a s t i n C a l i f o r n i a , s o I ' v e seen people jump as
high as 25 s t o r i e s , but t h a t was very d i f f e r e n t i n t h a t
i n t h a t it was j u s t kind of, oh, my gosh, and they
h i t . Here, with four times t h e h e i g h t , it was kind of
an oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God, u n t i l they
f i n a l l y h i t .
At t h a t point I had met D r . Cherson and t h e
paramedic a i d e t h a t was with him, Paramedic Delgado
from our o f f i c e as well.
Q. I s t h i s a t t h e command post?
A. This i s a t t h e command post, i n i t i a l l y across
t h e s t r e e t from World Trade Center.
Q. Who e l s e was a t t h e command post a t t h i s
A. I remember seeing Chief Ganci. I also
remember Chief Downey speaking to Commissioner Von
Essen walking in front of me. Also, at about this time
Mayor Giuliani and his entourage had actually walked
behind us, and then a couple of fire chiefs that I had
seen from the training or whatnot, but I couldn't
recall their names, some of the Dominican Republic
staff as well that had been sent.
Q. Was Commissioner Feehan there?
A. I had briefly seen him, but I can't remember
exactly where I had seen him.
Q. Okay.
A. At this point, as I was standing in front of
the command post looking to try to take in what was
going on, Dr. Cherson came back to me and said that
they were going to move the command post into the lobby
of 1 World Trade Center. So at that time he said to me
he was going to go in there with Paramedic Delgado,
Manny Delgado, and he wanted me to take the EMS fellow
who was with us and go to 7 World Trade, where they had
set up one of the first treatment areas.
going to be the EMS command post or the Fire Department
command post?
DR. ASAEDA: This was going to be an EMS
treatment area.
A. So I agreed to it, and one of the -- I can't
remember who it was but he actually brought over one of
the antidote kits from one of our vehicles. I almost
chuckled at that time thinking, even if it were, one
kit is not enough for all the potential patients, but
we brought it with us. We went into the loading dock
of 7 World Trade, which was right adjacent to the
telephone company building, I believe, on Vesey.
Q. Right.
A. I remember as we were walking there was smoke
coming from the World Trade Center and what seemed to
be in front parts of -- in retrospect, I guess it was
parts of the plane or whatnot, debris from the plane,
debris from the building, and I had also heard that
there were people around, but I didn't get a close
enough look to see what kind of status they were in.
We walked into the loading dock where Captain
Abdo of the Fire Department, EMS, had already
established a treatment area, and we were using the
START system, which is the simple triage and rapid
transport, where we color code our victims into red for
immediate, yellow for injury but not immediate, green
for walking wounded and black for dead at this point,
and he had set up the loading dock into these separate
areas and there were a few patients there as well. I
remember, again, walking towards the treatment area
thinking this is awfully close, we need to work on
getting it a little bit further out, and I started
seeing a few patients that were there.
The first gentleman for some reason I
remember particularly. He was a gentleman in his
seventies. He had said that he was on the 59th floor
of the first tower that got struck. He was actually
ordering some kind of food at that cafeteria, I think
it's at the 59th floor, I'm pretty sure, and thought
that, when he heard the explosion, that it was the
kitchen oven. He heard that other people said they
don't know what it is but it's time to evacuate, so he
actually came down the staircase, and he was just
sitting there because he was tired he was in the. So
green category of a walking wounded. I remember
thinking to myself, if he was able to make it out, then
it sounds like most people are going to be able to get
out, and I was relieved to hear that.
As I went to another patient, I remember a
Secret Service or security from 7 World Trade Center
person saying to me, did you hear that the Pentagon
just got hit by another plane? Again, not knowing
about the second plane still at this point, I thought,
oh, my God. Then he said, and there's another plane
missing. So at that point was the first point that I
realized that this was a terrorist -- an intentional
act, again, not knowing that the second plane had
already hit.
So I thought we really need to move this out
because I had a feeling they were going to come back
for us. Just as soon as I had thought that, I heard
what I thought was a jet engine plane. In retrospect,
it turns out that it was the first tower coming down.
We grabbed whatever patients we could, and what I did
was I turned to my left and ducked into the little --
there was, I guess, a little connection between the
lobby of 7 and the loading dock. The loading dock, I
do remember thinking that it looked very secure, thick
concrete and whatnot, and we all crammed, probably
about 30 of us, into this little alcove between the
lobby and the loading dock.
. and he nexL ~ h i n gI
noticed, t h a t j e t engine sound and then a loud crash
and then p i t c h black. Then --
Q. J u s t p r i o r t o t h a t , were t h e r e e l e c t r i c a l
l i g h t s where you were?
A. Yes, t h e r e were.
Q. Did they s t a y on?
A. No, they did n o t .
Q. Okay.
A. I remember thinking t h a t t h i s was it f o r me.
I r e a l l y thought t h a t t h i s was a n o t h e r p l a n e coming and
I thought t h i s was it. I remember p u t t i n g t h e v i s o r of
my helmet down, grabbing t h e chin s t r a p and j u s t kind
of s q u a t t i n g where I was a t . A f t e r I r e a l i z e d t h a t we
a c t u a l l y made it through t h i s i n i t i a l whatever it was,
it was so dark that I actually thought they had closed
the loading bay doors as a security measure for us, but
it turns out it was just the debris and the smoke and
whatnot that made it pitch black.
Q. The doors were still open?
A. They were still open.
Q. Okay.
A. I've heard in the past that, you know, these
disasters are so dark that people put their hands in
front of their face and couldn't see anything. I used
to laugh at them and think how dark can that be? But
really, it was so dark, you couldn't see the hand in
front of your face. At that point we realized that the
building we were in was still up, we needed to get out,
but just didn't know where to go, a little
disoriented. Any lighting equipment, which I actually
didn't have, but any of the EMTs, I would say there
were about eight of us, eight EMTs and medics, as well
as the Captain and myself, EMS, we realized that we
needed to get out, but none of us -- they hadn't
brought their flashlights to the area we just dove
into. We didn't know which way to go. People were
yelling, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, and I
remember from the bioterrorism course thinking, again,
it could be bioterrorism, that they had said that even
if you didn't have a mask, just take your tie and put
it on your face, that seems to eliminate 80 percent of
what may be around you. I remember thinking, they said
this would work, they said this would work, and tried
to breathe through this, but still everything in my
mouth and whatnot.
Now, trying to make the escape out, I didn't
know which way to go. Someone yelled, I think it's
this way, and somebody had a camera, whether it was a
photographer or whatnot, and I remember the person was
flashing his camera towards us saying come towards the
flash. So we made it to the flash, still pitch black,
by chance met up with Captain Abdo from EMS, and I
said, are all of our EMS people accounted for? He
said, yes, they are. I said, then we need to get out
of here. Then I said, oh, and we've got to get the
patients, because at this point it was kind of, you
know, we've got to get the patients as well, grabbed
whoever we could. Luckily, they were for the most part
all walking wounded, and even the ones that were lying
were at this point up and had ducked with us.
you there, Doctor.
were about 30 people you crammed into this little
alcove or pathway from the loading area to the lobby of
7 World Trade.
DR. ASAEDA: Correct.
any of those other people?
DR. ASAEDA: Just the EMS personnel. I
didn't recognize any of the Fire side personnel. Also
I recognized one of the security personnel from 7 World
Trade just because I used to go there weekly for the
Mayor's PAD, public access defibrillation meeting. I
recognized him. I also recognized the person who said
he was either Secret Service or security, not as
knowing him but just as he was next to me when we dove
for cover, and then the patients who we had brought
with us. But other than that, I didn't recognize any
other personnel.
A. At that point, we got to the exit, made a
decision to evacuate, got the patients, still not
knowing which way to go because we really hadn't been
able to determine what actually came down or what had
happened. The decision was either to go left or right
and we ended up going right, between the two buildings,
in the alleyway on the north, which turned out to be
the right direction because apparently there was a lot
of debris and part of 7 down already. Also, I did
notice as I was making my exit the sound of the
firefighters' alarms indicating that they were down. I
did remember that as well but just could not see
As we got into the alleyway, it just started
to get a little bit lighter, almost like a dusk/dawn
type of deal. We got through the alleyway, got half a
block up -- I don't even remember which block that was,
but saw one of the first ambulances, I think it was a
Cabrini ambulance, one of the voluntary hospital
ambulances with people just crammed on board. I made
the decision to remove them because they were not
hurt. I said, we have patients that are hurt. We
loaded three or four and I remember just hitting the
side of the ambulance and saying, go, go, go, go, and
the driver, the EMT or medic, shouted back or looked
back, where are we supposed to go? I said, just go
north, just go north. So they took off.
I saw another ambulance. At this point,
also, I saw people from OEM. Eddie Gabriel, who is one
of our EMS c h i e f s , was over t h e r e coming i n with -- I
think he had somebody on h i s arm. We saw p o l i c e
o f f i c e r s . There were some f i r e f i g h t e r s now i n gear but
not recognizable because of t h e d u s t . I d i d n ' t
remember any i d e n t i f y i n g markers on them e i t h e r .
now, Doctor? On West S t r e e t ?
DR. ASAEDA: This i s a c t u a l l y on -- l e t ' s
s e e . This was West. This was Vesey. We took t h e
l i t t l e alleyway between t h e telephone b u i l d i n g and 7
World Trade, ended up on t h e n e x t b l o c k .
Q. Park Place? Murray?
A. It may have been Murray. There was a parking
l o t adjacent t o it. It was a smaller s t r e e t . I think
may have been Park Place.
Q. Yes, I think so, too.
A. Then a t t h a t point I saw some of t h e OEM
people t h a t I recognized, j u s t happy t o see t h a t they
were okay. I got t o t h e next ambulance, put people on
board. At t h a t point my beeper was going o f f . It j u s t
seemed t o be t h e only thing t h a t was a c t u a l l y going
o f f . It t u r n e d o u t t o be my wife c a l l i n g because she
had heard t h a t I was going, and while I ' m t r y i n g t o
coordinate everybody going, I a c t u a l l y picked up t h e
phone and t r i e d t o d i a l . It d i d n ' t go through.
Once I got them on t h e ambulance, I a c t u a l l y
stopped and looked a t t h e corner and saw t h a t t h e r e was
a pay phone and thought t o myself, t h i s i s a Verizon
phone. There's no way t h a t would be working. I
thought, well, I have nothing t o l o s e a t t h i s p o i n t . I
dug i n t o my pocket, happened t o f i n d a q u a r t e r , t h e
only change I had, and I thought t o myself, i t ' s
probably with my luck one of those 35-cent phones
anyway, you know, i t ' s going t o be l i k e t h a t . I get
t h e r e , pick it up, i t ' s a 25-cent c a l l , d i a l tone i s
t h e r e s u r p r i s i n g l y , dropped a q u a r t e r i n and a c t u a l l y
it goes through.
knew t h a t you were going t o be t h e r e , t h e f i r s t tower
came down. I s a i d , l i s t e n , calm down. I ' m okay. I ' m
not going t o do anything t o endanger myself f u r t h e r .
I ' m okay. Do me a f a v o r , c a l l my mom i n San Francisco,
l e t her know t h a t I ' m okay, and then I hung up t h e
phone. I s a i d , I ' l l c a l l you when I can, and then
proceeded back towards t h e north tower.
At t h a t point I stopped myself and thought t o
myself, you've got t o be smart about t h i s . The f i r s t
tower came down. There's a g r e a t chance t h a t t h e
second one might as well. So I went back up half a
block through the parking lot and then back onto West.
Q. You didn't know about the second plane at
this point, but you knew the second tower was burning?
A. I didn't even know that the second tower was
burning because I had no information that the second
tower was hit.
Q. Gotit.
A. So all the way up until the Secret Service or
the security, whoever he happened to be, told me that
the other plane was missing, that one plane had hit the
Pentagon and another was missing, up until that point I
knew nothing of a potential terrorist attack. It was
only in my mind thinking in this day and age, it could
be terrorism, so be careful. As a matter of fact, when
I saw all that dust come through, I thought at that
point, while I was walking, I thought, this must be
anthrax. I mean, that's something that definitely went
through my mind.
So at that point all our patients were onto
the ambulances, our EMS group kind of disbanded, but I
saw Captain Abdo on West and -- again, I'm not familiar
with it. It's about one block further north of where 7
used to be. I met him at the corner and at that point
we were l i t e r a l l y thinking of going back towards 1
World Trade, knowing t h a t t h e command post was t h e r e ,
stopped o u r s e l v e s t h i n k i n g we've got t o be smart about
t h i s , t h i s i s something e l s e t h a t might come down, and
as we had thought t h a t , t h e sound before t h e s i g h t
coming, saw t h e second tower a c t u a l l y come down and
then heard it afterwards, a t which point a l l of us
t u r n e d n o r t h and s t a r t e d running. We got about a
block, maybe h a l f a block, ducked i n t o a l i t t l e alcove
where t h e r e were probably 30 p o l i c e o f f i c e r s ,
f i r e f i g h t e r s , again, I d o n ' t recognize any s h i e l d
numbers or helmet numbers, a g a i n s t t h e wall, when o t h e r
cops ran by and s a i d , you're j u s t not fucking f a r
enough. So we turned around and r a n n o r t h , a t which
point t h e plume of t h e smoke, again, kind of a warm
f e e l i n g came by us, l u c k i l y no d e b r i s , almost kind of
l i f t i n g us and then kind of surrounding us again.
Then, a t t h a t p o i n t , when everything s e t t l e d ,
we s e t up a n o t h e r t r e a t m e n t area a t t h e corner of --
what corner i s t h a t ? I d o n ' t r e c a l l . I t ' s j u s t south
of Chambers, about a block south of Chambers. We s e t
up a n o t h e r t r e a t m e n t area, s t a r t e d t o see some of t h e
walking wounded. There weren't too many people
s e r i o u s l y i n j u r e d . There were some f i r e f i g h t e r s t h a t
were complaining of smoke, of just inhalation and
dust. We gave them some oxygen. That I'm sure was
tracked because I had our EMT write down the names, but
I can't recall any names.
There was one firefighter that he had given
me his name, I actually wrote it down, I still have,
saying that I'm sure they think I'm missing, please
notify command that I'm okay. That I actually wrote
down and I actually went to one of the chiefs and they
took the name down, but their communications weren't
100 percent either. So they were trying to do what
they could. I made that initial report.
At that point, while we were treating some
patients and not more than maybe ten if that, they said
there's suspicious packages around. I think the police
officers came by and said we needed to evacuate. So we
actually walked everyone further north another block
and this time got to the Borough of Manhattan Community
College and up on, I guess in their gymnasium area, up
the stairs, we set up an area. We wanted to try to
keep people like myself who were contaminated kind of
out, keeping the area relatively fresh. So people who
were covered like myself were kind of treating people
on the outside, and those that were clean, those people
were inside giving oxygen and water.
We were probably there for about 20, 30
minutes, when we were told that there's suspicious
packages again, and this time people were running
towards north again saying that there's a gas leak. So
we evacuated everybody and started running again, and
at this point I think we all decided we're going to get
as far north as we could, decided to go to Chelsea, and
I thought that was a good area because just being there
initially realizing this was really going to be a body
recovery, unfortunately, I thought that the ice rink
would be a good place for a temporary morgue. I had
heard in the past, I have a friend that works at DEA,
that that was a huge facility.
As a matter of fact, I took one of the
Japanese firefighters from Tokyo, who was interested in
that kind of thing, while he was visiting the Fire
Department here, he wanted me to stop by there just to
see what kind of health facilities they had to take
back to Japan with him. So I remember actually seeing
the facility and remembering that it was large enough
that, if they would allow us to use that facility, that
would be an ideal location.
Then, as I was running, an ambulance, I don't
even know who it was, I think it was a volunteer
ambulance p u l l e d up and j u s t y e l l e d , Doc, jump i n . We
were jumping i n t o t h e ambulance, seven o t h e r people,
kind of a l l i n d i s a r r a y . I remember thinking what j u s t
happened? Then I was dropped off a t Chelsea, met with
Chief Pascale and Chief Kowalczyk, who were a t t h a t
point f o r EMS command, and then we decided t o s e t t h e
h o s p i t a l area t h e r e .
About an hour a f t e r , they asked f o r us t o
r e t u r n back t o t h e -- I guess t h e F i r e command post on
Chambers and West. Then a couple hours t h e r e a f t e r , you
know, we were t r y i n g t o evaluate t h e b e s t we could, 7
came down. I remember running again and some of t h e
F i r e guys s t a r t e d running and stopped and I guess they
r e a l i z e d t h a t we were f a r away enough. But I remember
I j u s t kept running u n t i l -- I f i g u r e d u n t i l I see
everything down, I ' l l keep running. I got about a
block and then r e a l i z e d , okay, maybe I was a l i t t l e
s i l l y . But I walked back t o t h e command post, and then
we t r i e d t o come up w i t h a plan.
Then f o r t h e r e s t of t h e night we were t r y i n g
t o s e t up a h o s p i t a l area, one a t Stuyvesant High
School, which we were a b l e t o s e t up, a l s o t r y i n g t o
s e t up some s t r i k e teams up near t h e rubble p i l e ,
r e a l l y mainly f o r rescuers a t t h i s p o i n t , j u s t
r e a l i z i n g t h e r e wasn't going t o be many victims, but i n
case a victim was p u l l e d o u t . I was t h e r e f o r about
t h e next, I t h i n k , t o t a l of l i k e 28 hours on t h e f i r s t
day, j u s t t r y i n g t o coordinate what we could,
communicating with OEM as well as t o t h e f e d e r a l a s s e t s
t h a t were coming. We heard t h a t t h e DEMAT teams were
coming, a l s o t h a t t h e FEMA USAR t a s k f o r c e t h i n g s were
By t h i s p o i n t , John C l a i r e , Commissioner
C l a i r e , as well as D r . Gonzalez and D r . Richmond, who
were a l s o a t t h e u p s t a t e meeting, were flown back
apparently by s t a t e trooper h e l i c o p t e r . This was
probably t h r e e , four hours i n t o it, I think by 1 1 : O O or
12:OO i n t h e afternoon, and they were t r y i n g t o
coordinate what they could from t h e i r s i t e . At t h a t
p o i n t , D r . Gonzalez, who i s r e a l l y i n charge of our
New York t a s k f o r c e , USAR, Urban Search and Rescue
Team, decided t h a t he would put t o g e t h e r some semblance
of a team t o do some of t h e rescue e f f o r t s . So p a r t of
our o b l i g a t i o n , myself, as being t h e doctor t h e r e
throughout t h e n i g h t , would be t o cover t h e main
medical command as well a s t h e USAR a c t i v i t i e s as
At this same point, I heard that Dr. Prezant
and/or Dr. Kelly had set up something at Pace, on that
side. Initially, Dr. Cherson had set something up at
the Liberty Street side, I think by the ferries. So I
knew that we had good coverage in the areas. Then the
rest of it was just trying to set up and coordinate. A
lot of volunteers, medical staff and whatnot, came up
very early, but I don't think they realized what
magnitude of disaster this was. I had surgeons, I
think 30 surgeons from a college conference at one of
the hotels showed up by busload saying we're surgeons,
we're here to help. I said, it would be great, but
there's no one to pull out at this point. If you don't
mind loading the water, that's what we're going to need
at this point, you know, we sent everybody to Chelsea
Piers and set up things over there.
any patients that night?
how many?
DR. ASAEDA: All the patients
Did you see
that I saw were
rescuers in some shape or form. None were from the
initial collapse. A lot of things in their eyes, which
we washed out, some respiratory complaints, some minor
bumps and bruises, someone that actually needed some
sutures and whatnot. The way we had it set up was that
anyone who needed a transport would be placed onto the
ambulance and actually sent to the hospital because we
also coordinated with the hospitals to find out what
they could handle and we were told that initially they
got some of the burns and the sick patients from the
initial planes, but that was only a few hundred
throughout the hospitals. We looked at Downtown
Beekman, Bellevue, St. Vincent's, as far as Cabrini as
well, and we were told that, after the initial wave,
they weren't getting any patients, they were ready, so
we knew that we didn't really need to do too much
treatment on the scene, we would try to go back to the
way that things are normally run in these disasters
where we'd do an initial triage, do basic treatment
that we can, and then ship them to the hospital. We
felt that's where they would better be served. But it
turned out that there weren't that many victims from
the rubble.
other questions.
find out for the first time that a second plane had hit
the other tower?
DR. ASAEDA: This was after, I guess after my
initial run and as I was looking at the north tower and
thinking of going back, they had said, yeah, did you
hear the second plane hit that as well? Then I started
to put things together thinking this was obviously a
terrorist attack. But not until then, again, I think
mainly because I was in the tunnel when the second
plane had hit and Citywide at some spots apparently
doesn't come through and the traffic was to hard to get
on that I actually I got on the radio to tell them, 784
was my identifier for the day, 784, show me
responding. I just could not get through after about
three attempts and just tried to go on by computer, but
that was logged as well, so I couldn't actually log on
that way.
Again, in retrospect, maybe I should have had
an FM station on. That would have at least given me
the news. But not thinking to that extent, I just had
1010 WINS on. It must have taken me -- you know, I
must have found out about the first plane maybe five to
ten minutes after it actually hit because I actually do
remember seeing the smoke. I was in the tunnel when
the second plane hit, popped out probably soon
thereafter, and then with everything was trying to get
on scene and listen to the radio. Again, I didn't hear
anything about a confirmed second crash, either that or
I just wasn't paying close enough attention or just
didn't know about the second plane.
question has to do with West Street.
you were coming over to 7 World Trade for the first
time or after you evacuated 7 World Trade after the
first collapse, did you notice a lot of rigs and buses
lined up on West Street from like the command post on
DR. ASAEDA: I remember more particularly on
West Street, the south end of West Street, between the
south tower and the first tower, I would guess, a lot
of vehicles, heavy fire rescue vehicles and ambulances
as well. I don't remember as many north of Vesey. I
do remember there was like a ladder truck on the corner
of West and Vesey, actually on West, on the northbound
lane facing the opposite direction. That vehicle I do
remember and then s p o r a d i c a l l y here and t h e r e some
o t h e r v e h i c l e s as well.
Where I parked my v e h i c l e , I remember t h e
v e h i c l e I parked next t o was a t r a f f i c enforcement
v e h i c l e , and then t h e r e were some -- they looked l i k e I
think it was a marked, no l i g h t , f i r e p r o t e c t i o n type
v e h i c l e I had seen as well, i f I remember.
v e h i c l e destroyed?
DR. ASAEDA: Yes, it was.
v e h i c l e , can you d e s c r i b e it, when you saw i t ?
DR. ASAEDA: It was a dark-colored, unmarked
c a r . I thought it was kind of p a r t i c u l a r l y odd i n t h a t
he looked t o me l i k e he was s i t t i n g i n t h e back s e a t ,
behind t h e passenger, which would seem odd t o me
because I would think t h a t , I guess, i f he wasn't
d r i v i n g himself, he would be i n t h e p a s s e n g e r ' s s i d e .
But i n r e t r o s p e c t , he could have been i n t h e
p a s s e n g e r ' s s i d e a s well because he a c t u a l l y moved
r i g h t p a s t me, not very quickly but j u s t enough f o r me
t o a c t u a l l y recognize him and say, oh, Chief, and then
he got i n f r o n t of me. Again, once we got onto West
S t r e e t from t h e south end, t h e r e were probably 20 t o 30
v e h i c l e s already parked and t h e n a n o t h e r 20 v e h i c l e s
t r y i n g t o get through, so I r e a l i z e d t h a t I would not
be a b l e t o continue. As Chief Downey's v e h i c l e went
forward and, again, seeing t h e ambulances on t h e l e f t ,
I decided t o go t h e r e , a t l e a s t j u s t get out of t h e
t r a f f i c p a t t e r n . Then t h a t a c t u a l l y worked i n my
b e n e f i t because I was a b l e t o bring t h e v e h i c l e up t h e
s i d e s t r e e t , t h e s e r v i c e road.
MR. McALLISTER: I d o n ' t have any f u r t h e r
q u e s t i o n s . Do you have any o t h e r r e c o l l e c t i o n s or
observations t o share with us, Doctor?
DR. ASAEDA: T h a t ' s about everything. I
mean, obviously, a l l t h e v o l u n t e e r s , I know t h a t
everyone had g r e a t i n t e n t i o n s , but I guess they d i d n ' t
r e a l i z e t h e e x t e n t of t h i n g s . J u s t a tragedy.
Also, t h e o t h e r t h i n g I remember i s we used
t o have an EMT t h a t worked here who was a c t u a l l y on t h e
86th f l o o r of t h e World Trade b u i l d i n g and I thought t o
myself, he must be i n t h e r e . I thought he was gone,
very a f r a i d t o c a l l h i s family, as he was a f r a i d t o
c a l l me. When I f i n a l l y found out he was okay v i a t h e
o f f i c e here, I c a l l e d him and he had s a i d t h a t he
a c t u a l l y was a l s o an a u x i l i a r y f i r e f i g h t e r here i n New
York City and had some thoughts of becoming a
f i r e f i g h t e r e a r l i e r . But he s a i d a s he was making h i s
evacuation and seeing t h e f i r e f i g h t e r s come up f u l l y
loaded with t h e i r gear and t h e i r hoses going up t o t h e
f l o o r s t o f i g h t t h e f i r e s , he s a i d he was thanking
everyone, thank you f o r what you do, thank you f o r what
you do, and he s a i d a l l thoughts of ever being a
f i r e f i g h t e r went r i g h t out t h e door f o r him t h e r e .
I can only imagine what they must have been
going through, and hearing t h a t t h e r e ' s 343
f i r e f i g h t e r s l o s t , i n i t i a l l y , over 300 i n i t i a l l y , j u s t
t h e thought of t h a t i s j u s t tremendous, but when I
a c t u a l l y saw t h e names on t h e l i s t , it made me think
t w i c e a g a i n and a l s o looking a t t h e p i c t u r e s . Now, not
r e c a l l i n g t h e names e x a c t l y , s e e i n g t h e p i c t u r e s , I
recognized one of t h e faces and I r e a l i z e d t h a t t h e r e
were more people t h a t I knew through t h e Dominican
Republic deployment or even through t h e b i o t e r r o r i s m
course. I d o n ' t remember i f h e ' s a c h i e f . I think
i t ' s Chief Fanning or Captain Fanning was l o s t as
well. I saw h i s p i c t u r e on t h a t . There was another
chief t h a t was on t h a t l i s t as well t h a t I recognized
from t h e c l a s s and i t ' s j u s t h o r r i f i c . Not t h a t not
knowing them makes any difference, but it just adds
that personal touch that makes it really sad.
I didn't realize that Commissioner Feehan
actually lived in the neighborhood that I just moved to
a couple of months ago, and so once I got off the World
Trade Center site, I heard about his wake the night
before and went to the funeral, and it's just very hard
to take, as I'm sure you know. Just devastating.
DR. ASAEDA: Sure. Thank you very much.
MR. McALLISTER: Thank you very much,
DR. ASAEDA: If you need anything more,
please let me know.
MR. McALLISTER: I'm just going to conclude
the interview it's 1612 hours on October 11th and we
are concluding the interview. Thank you

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