Remembering 9/11: A Response That Revealed The ‘Very Best in Humanity’

9/11
Print icon

Where were you on 9/11? Most of today’s high school students were not yet born and most college students are too young to remember when 19 Islamic extremists carried out the deadliest attacks on American soil in United States history.

On that day in 2001 that dawned as a stunning fall prelude with a promise of endless blue skies and high-60s temperatures, Hartford HealthCare CEO Jeff Flaks was an executive at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York attending an annual capital and operating budget session.

“We heard a noise,” he says. “Initially, it wasn’t that alarming. But we walked outside shortly thereafter and saw some degree of devastation. Moments later, we saw the second plane fly directly into the World Trade Center. It’s a vision I’ll never forget.”

An estimated 2,750 would be killed when the hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers, one and then another, destroying what were at the time the world’s tallest buildings. Suicide attacks killed 184 more at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and 40 in Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked planes crashed after a passenger revolt.

In New York, as first-responders streamed toward the World Trade Center, St. Vincent’s became the city’s emergency response center. Hospitals, the safety nets for their communities, tend to be at the center of all when disasters strike.

“I saw the very best of humanity,” says Flaks. “I saw people donating blood, people voluntarily looking to donate corneas. People would do anything they possibly could. I saw the community come together.”

Today, the 9/11 Memorial offers a solemn tribute with its two giant waterfalls and reflecting pools set within the Twin Towers’ original footprint. St. Vincent’s, old enough to have treated victims of the 1849 cholera epidemic, closed in 2010.

The nation moves on, but never forgets.

“It was indelible to me in terms of what it meant,” says Flaks. “It makes me understand why all of our healthcare system has to be ready to partner with government, with community, at a moment’s notice to do the right thing.”

 


What's New

Fecal transplant

A Fecal Transplant? The Strange-But-True Weight-Loss Study

If the medications, shakes and diet plans don’t yield the weight loss results you want, the next step might be transplanting the stool of a thin person into your body. Sound far-fetched? Researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston recently proposed, based on their investigation into the workings of...

Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Fall Classic: Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Pumpkin anyone? It’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin season. Pumpkin is certainly an appropriate choice in a healthy diet. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene. One cup cooked is only 49 calories, with 12 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and no fat....


Heart & Vascular Institute Has a New Home in the East

Because of the continued expansion of services, the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute has officially moved its Norwich office, formerly located on 164 Otrobando Ave., to a newly renovated 7,000-square-foot space at 111 Salem Turnpike in Norwich (the former Ames plaza).  The new center offers comprehensive and convenient outpatient...

EEE

Second EEE Death in State History As More Towns Report Infected Mosquitoes

The first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis of the season, only the second reported in Connecticut history, has produced a chorus of caution from public health officials, medical professions and local communities. The message: Protect yourself from mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, and limit outdoor activity in the twilight...

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention: When People Offering Help Actually Need It

Two recent high-profile suicide deaths of men who worked with those at-risk for suicide highlights the increased suicide rate for those who provide services and care. The importance or raising awareness in September, National Suicide Prevention Month, is highlighted by the deaths of Gregory Eells, the executive director of counseling...