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9/11 Heroes: Amidst the Adversities

September 11, 2001 will be forever etched not only in the history of the United States of America but also within the memories of people around the world who love peace, seek harmony, and value human life.

The 9/11 attacks killed about 3,000 people and caused $10 Billion damage to property and infrastructure. America – the most glorious country in the world was stricken with terror, fear, and loss. But amidst the chaos and rubble, the heroic efforts of firefighters, police officers, volunteers and ordinary folks have paved the way to restore faith in the American spirit. At Ground Zero and beyond, healthcare professionals responded with courage and compassion.

Scrub Point features healthcare workers who have exerted extra miles to extend help in the onslaught of 9/11.

1. Joana Lomi (Paramedic at New York University Downtown Hospital)

“It was an overwhelming feeling of fear, horror—and not being able to do more. There were hundreds of people that needed to be treated. I was at risk of losing my life, but I had to stay and help other people.” –Joana Lomi / Time Magazine

Joana Lomi Image Source:


Joana Lomi has proven that a healthcare worker is always on duty. She and her partner survived the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) but instead of seeking immediate medical help, they went to work and provided emergency medical assistance to hundreds of people who were injured, and putting her own life at risk. She was featured by the Time Magazine on its tribute to America’s Heroes. Amidst the danger, she treated injured civilians including adults and children without hesitation.

2. Meril Lynch Nurses (RoyannaCommisso, Karen Novello, Maureen Flanagan, Andrea Rizzo, Clorinda Hartmann and Janet Nagle)

From left, Karen Novello, Maureen Flanagan, Andrea Rizzo, Clorinda Hartmann, Royanna Commisso and Janet Nagle Image Source:


The Meril Lynch Nurses are a perfect example of courage and teamwork. During the tragic event, Royanna Commisso, together with five more nurses, chose to remain near the burning WTC complex to provide medical assistance by setting up an outdoor triage. While thousands fled in panic, the nurses worked together with technicians from the New York City Emergency Medical Services by putting up cots and chairs, and treating injured survivors. Approximately, they managed to treat 75 victims of shock, burns, lacerations, smoke inhalation and other injuries. After WTC collapsed, some of the ML nurses went to St. Vincent’s Hospital to continue their duties. The American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum, a national organization of nurses, highly praised the ML nurses. Ultimately, they were invited to the White House in 2002 and lauded by President George Bush for their “”extraordinary commitment to the humanitarian ideals of the nursing profession.”

3. Lucille Yip, RN, BSN

Lucille Yip is a modern hero at her own right. Lucille is an emergency room nurse at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Manhattan.On that day, she witnessed the twin towers burn and collapse. Lucille didn’t hesitate to put on her scrubs and immediately went to St. Vincent’s Medical Center to help. There she was assigned to triage and care for the survivors. For the next two days, Lucille worked for long strenuous 13-hour shifts in that triage section.

Lucille Yip Image Source:


“Nothing prepares you for something like this, but I am so proud to be a nurse. From starting an IV to giving a woman a hug made me feel good, knowing I could give of myself in some way to those who have suffered such a loss.” –Lucille Yip

4. Melissa Velasquez, RN

Melissa Velasquez Image Source:

 A nurse has no “offs” when help is badly needed. Melissa Velazquez works at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. She was actually not scheduled to work on that tragic day but when she was notified that the Pentagon was stricken by terrorists, she wasted no time and drove 40 miles away from home to the hospital. There she provided medical assistance on burn patients. It was noted that one year before the attacks, nurses at the said hospital walked off the job because of labor disputes over staff shortages and working conditions. But when the Pentagon was attacked, many of them, including Velasquez put aside their differences and returned to the hospital to help.

5. Trauma Team (Belinda Ellis, Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez, Louis Garcia)

Trauma Team (Belinda Ellis, Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez, Louis Garcia) Image Source:


Heroes present themselves in many forms. In the 9/11 attack, these heroes came in the names of Belinda Ellis, Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez and Louis Garcia. Right after the first plane struck the tower, Marcy, Louis Garcia’s wife, who happened to be a cop working downtown immediately alerted Louis through phone. He rushed right away at the scene within two minutes and delivered six survivors into his ambulance. Along with his partner, they managed to rescue more people when the second plane hit. The following week, Garcia managed to work with his colleagues Belinda Ellis, a nurse who cared for the 9/11 patients at the Mary Immaculate Hospital and Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez, the head of St. Vincent’s emergency unit, whose acts of leadership saved a thousand of victims through his response squads.

September 11, 2001, truly, is a date that’ll remain as a moment of grief and tragedy not only in America’s soil but in the whole world. All we can do now is look back at the lasting memory of what the thousands of lives lost have left us, a reminder for the living to value life. Along with this tragic event are the rise of heroes that have risked their lives in order to ensure the safety of others. To name a few, these are the medical professionals. In that very moment where terror and devastation stands potent, they still managed to thrive before it. Several acts of heroism and bravery are still left unsung but it greatly lightens things up knowing that there will always be people never hesitant to help whenever it is needed.

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