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.