SHORTSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — Saturday marks the 20th-anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. This week, Shortsville Fire Chief Jason Wagner spoke with News 8 on his response to Ground Zero in the days following the terror attacks.
“This was a war that had been visited on (New York City) and our state,” says Wagner.
Wagner was at home when his text pager went off, saying a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City. He thought a Cessna place got lost and hit the building.
“It wasn’t until I had reached work at the University of Rochester when I saw people gathered around a television set when I realized the scope,” says Wagner.
Wagner, an EMT and firefighter, was sent down to Manhattan days after the terror attacks when events transitioned from a rescue to a recovery effort.
“At Ground Zero we provided EMS to people who were working on the pile. We sent an ambulance and four EMTs, including myself,” he says.
The remains, tangled bunches of metal, crude hunks of concrete, and fires still flickering. “The air was foul with smoke and…all kinds of odors from the things that were all still burning in the pile,” he says.
In all the carnage, though…humanity pushed through. “The service people committed to each other and giving of themselves,” he says.
He’s hoping that the unifying resolve in the weeks after 9/11 can once again visit Americans. That spirit, sadly lacking.
“I haven’t felt a surge of patriotism like that since that time in my life,” he says.
Wagner says we can all take a page from the rescue efforts 20 years ago, and do good in our own communities. “Treat September 11th with remembrance, but also make it a day of service,” he says.