By Leah Small ProgressIndex.com
FORT LEE – When Brian Smith alerted dispatch on September 11, 2001, that he and others of Battalion 31, Fire Department City of New York, were ready for duty, he didn’t know that to expect or that he would lose his father.
Smith, who served as an emergency medical technician for the battalion, was told that his father, Kevin Smith of Haz-Mat Co.1, FDNY, was last seen on the 11th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers.
“At that point I knew what happened,” Brian Smith said.
Smith risked his life that day in camaraderie with his father and other first responders.
Smith, who is now a detective with the Lynchburg Police Department where he was been employed for over 10 years, shared his experience at ground zero at the Colonial Heights Chamber of Commerce 65th Annual Dinner Meeting.
Smith described the scene as unreal.
“I looked down the street and cars were on fire and people weren’t even phased by this,” he said. “It was like some weird movie.”
He faced hazards he had never experienced in his career. Smith could hear the sound of bodies hitting the ground as people threw themselves from the towers.
“This was the first time in my career that I ever had to worry about jumpers hitting me,” he said.
The sky rained steel and concrete.
Smith responded to many injuries that day, ranging from burns to broken bones.
As he set a man’s broken leg, the man asked him if he was OK because his face was bleeding. Blood poured through Smith’s surgical mask. Smith said that he would take care of the injury when it started hurting and that he was running off of adrenaline.
Later he realized that his nose was broken. He received treatment at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn.
He went back out the next day and worked until the final day of recovery.
But 9/11 gave him determination.
“I wish all of that stuff didn’t happen, and I wish my dad was still here, but I have been blessed through all of this,” he said.
Now he speaks to audiences to keep the memory alive of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“Those days shouldn’t be glossed over with the passage of time,” he said.