Does The Ultimate Sacrifice Truly Go Unnoticed?

It’s frustrating. Every year when the anniversary of 9/11/01 comes, we see the horrifying images and sit through the documentaries about that day. Some of us watch them, unable to look away, even though doing so brings back memories and emotional scars that may only be starting to heal from the previous year.

In a way though the scars get a tiny bit better and while never forgotten, these memories will be a part of us that were at 9/11 forever.

You can’t help but notice during these special reports and documentaries the constant remembrance of the FDNY and NYPD yet no mention of EMS. You see hand written signs that say “God Bless FDNY & NYPD”, the pictures of flags being raised by FDNY members, and the clips of speeches thanking these agencies for their sacrifice.

Of course the loss of the members of these agencies was tragic and they are heroes – one and all. It is no fault of the FDNY or NYPD that the 8 EMS professionals who died that day did not get the same hand written signs or public mentions. As bigger organizations they are better known, and perhaps our society simply sees EMS as an extended part of the emergency services community.

The question is was their sacrifice truly unnoticed?  Take one EMS member David Marc Sullins.  David was an EMT with Cabrini Medical Center who was working a double shift when the first plane hit. Without thought for his own safety he raced to the scene – his peers noticed. 

David pulled several people with various injuries from the South Tower and transported them to the hospital – these patients noticed.

He returned a final time to the base of the South Tower and went back in to help more people, despite the growing concern that it may collapse – his partner noticed.

It has been written in several other tribute articles to David that he was a dedicated EMT, just getting into paramedic school; a person who loved his job and the people he worked with. Often he would give small toys to his pediatric patients to ease their fear and anxiety – those writers and children noticed.

David did not make it home that day; he never made it out of the South Tower when it collapsed. His partner awoke in a hospital bed wondering what happened, alive – but noticing David wasn’t with her.

At 30 years old, being an EMT in the greatest city in the world on a day that is one the greatest tragedies of the United States. David didn’t go to the Towers looking for recognition. Neither did the other 7 EMS professionals, 341 firefighters, 23 police officers, 37 Port Authority Officers and so many other rescue workers that perished that day.

They went for their love of the job, their sense of duty to the people, and from a calling few others can relate to. Those of us who reflect each year on the sacrifice of these emergency personnel, and who are inherently connected to the 8 EMS professionals like David Marc Sullins, know this love, this dedication and hear the call. But most of all – we noticed.

David’s remains were recovered on March 23rd 2002 in the South Tower rubble. Perhaps this gave some closure to his wife, family and friends – a group of people who do not have to “notice”.  They know David’s ultimate sacrifice, his heroism – and this writer hopes – their own.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Scot Phelps

    Things were way worse than this. Not only did they not get noticed, other than the 2 FDNY paramedics, they were initially not eligible for federal, state, or city death benefits, either. This only changed after Richard Fox, an FDNY union rep and George Contreras fought for months to get benefits extended to the hospital paramedics and EMTs who died (In NYC at the time, half of the 911 ambulances were FDNY and half of the 911 ambulances were hospital-based. Of the 8 who died: 4 worked for the hospitals, 2 worked for FDNY, 1 was from a volunteer ambulance corps, and 1 was from a private ambulance company).

    The hospital EMTs and paramedics ONLY did 911 calls 100% of the time under contract to the City, but in the view of the Federal government, they were like Forest Service Firefighting pilots, who are treated as civilians when they die. By the way, the same would apply to most volunteer fire department deaths (technically a private non-profit company contracted to the town) except there is an escape clause in the Public Safety Officer’s Benefit for volunteers which covers them.

    Let me be clear: The hospitals which employed these paramedics and EMTs, their union, Local 1199 SEIU, and the Greater New York Hospital Association which represented their hospitals DID NOTHING TO HELP. It was the FDNY EMS Union which went above and beyond and a line paramedic (granted, George had two Masters) to pressure federal officials to include them in the federal Public Safety Officer’s Benefit and that took, if I remember correctly, an Act of Congress. To my knowledge, they never got State or City benefits.

    Scot Phelps

    1. Kevin Barwick

      The comments made by Mr Phelps are very true.1199 did absolutely nothing for any of the Voluntary EMS people..EVER.On a different note I would like to thank you Mr Hoffman for choosing Marc for your story.I worked at Cabrini for years,first as an EMT.Marc was my partner on Mondays and some Sundays. We all had such a good time working with Marc.Sitting in the “Bus” on our street corner talking nonsense and making fun of people,we would laugh for hours. We were a small “garage” so we were all very close. Knowing about each others family issues and family life,meeting his wife downtown while working..he was so scarred that we were out of our area and we would get in trouble. Anyway I could go on for hours. I would like to than you greatly for choosing Marc. When I saw this picture it brought back beautiful memories and horrible memories. Marc deserves recognition….as well as the other EMS members that died that day, and continue to do the job everyday. Thank you again.

  2. Alexander Woo

    9/11 is one of many things, where EMS is not recognize. This is why I do this; I don’t want awards or medals. I do this because many need help, who can’t help themselves.

    I remember that day so candidly. I was off at the time and I was at BMCC in class, 10 blocks from ground zero; when the first tower was hit. School was cancelled & I drove to Bway & Park Row; I parked my car there by City Hall. I walked towards Bway & Fulton: 1 block from the WTC, knowing EMS staging was on probably on Church & Fulton, WTC site.

    When I reached the intersection; I heard a LOUD Rumbling sound: it ressemble a speeding locomotive. Like many around me, we frozed in our tracks. As seconds passed, which felt like minutes, smoke filled debris was seen & felt. All who stood still during this most frantic moment, ran from this engulfing sandstorm. I knew what had just happened but I couldn’t believe it. The screams of thousands were immediately silenced. Many feelings & emotions were racing through my mind; at the time I didn’t know that 3 of my EMS brothers were among the silenced until hours later.

    I drove to Cabrini & helped in the ER. Many FFs were there who needed attention; they looked withdrawn, helpless, & confused.

    I met up with my wife (fiance at the time) at 34th St & 1st Ave, who walked from NY Hospitial and I drove (however, car was rellocated; thought it was towed; walked to the Westside pound; not there; wasn’t towed; we walked back to Cabrini; found car blocks away parked in a schoolyard) her back to Brooklyn.

    I worked that evening & overnight at Cabrini; it was the worst tours ever. The system was overwhelmed. I was overhelmed.

    I miss you Mark, Mario, & Keith. RIP my friends. RIP to all who met their end that day.

  3. dominc c heavey

    I would like to thank Jim for putting into words how Ifeel after looing m partner that morning I know EMS was left in the dark

  4. Bobbi Planchon

    Thanks for honoring and remembering my brother Marc. I am so glad his heroism will not be forgotten

  5. Ann Sullins

    I didn’t know Marc, but wish that I had; RIP brave man. I found the news of his death on the Sullins genealogy website and he is a distant relative of mine. Of course all the innocent deaths were heartbreaking then it becomes more so when you find that one was family. Thanks so much for keeping his memory alive. And I am passing this along on twitter.

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