On September 11, 2001 I was attending a client casework class at the SEPA chapter headquarters. The manager of preparedness came down to the class and informed me that an accident had occurred at the World Trade Center. Upon arriving on the bridge (SEPA Chapter’s emergency communications center) I saw the building that had been hit by an airplane. I told everyone that this was an attack not an accident. I based this upon the fact that the building had been hit once prior by terrorist as a symbol of American capitalism and decadence. Probably no later than a half an hour the other building was attacked by the jet airliner.
As a retired soldier, the attack upon the Pentagon was extremely poignant to me due to the fact I had worked in the building during my military career. This attack for me confirmed totally that this was a coordinated effort against our country.
All the phone lines in the chapter began ringing as soon as these events occurred. Many individuals from Bucks County worked in the facilities and many family members were trying to make contact. Additionally, all phone lines were overwhelmed and out of service in the New York area of operations.
At that time, I was a DAT (Disaster Action Team) leader. The director of emergency services, assistant director of emergency services and Chapter leadership wanted to be prepared for anything here at headquarters, so I was directed to begin the process of preparing the building from a possible follow-up attack. We took the vehicles present at the chapter and created a ring around the building to stop the possibilities of a vehicle type of attack. The entrance of the driveway was blocked and a guard was present manning the entrance into the parking lot.
The most important thing that came out of this for me was the fact that everybody wanted to provide some type of service at this time to the Red Cross and country. Every agency or organization offered some type of assistance to the SEPA chapter. Every American had been touched by this event and the best that we could do arose from us on this day.
- Terry Johnson
is still an employee at the American Red Cross of SEPA
he’s now the Manager of Disaster Services