NJSFAC plans display, memorial service during October convention in Atlantic City
SAYREVILLE, NJ – Recognizing the invaluable services the state’s EMS volunteers provided in New York City and northern New Jersey on 9/11 and in the weeks following the disaster, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today presented a World Trade Center artifact to New Jersey State First Aid Council (NJSFAC) representatives during a private observance at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The World Trade Center steel beam is 5 feet long and weighs 338 pounds.
Under tight security in Hangar 17, the airport’s official depository of World Trade Center artifacts, the volunteers solemnly and respectfully took possession of the 5-foot-long, 338-pound portion of rusty, twisted steel beam recovered from the Twin Towers site nearly a decade ago. The beam is 34 inches wide and 29 inches high.
“It’s quite humbling to be entrusted with this symbol of American resilience,” said Barbara Aras, president of the 82-year-old nonprofit NJSFAC, which represents more than 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with 350 first aid and rescue squads throughout the Garden State.
“More than 1,000 of our volunteers in more than 400 ambulances responded to Manhattan, Liberty State Park and Giants Stadium on 9/11,” Aras said. “They witnessed horror, but also saw innumerable acts of kindness and selflessness that remain ingrained in their memories.”
On 9/11 and for two weeks afterward, New Jersey’s EMS volunteers assisted by answering routine 9-1-1 emergency medical calls in New York City and standing by at Chelsea Pier and Ground Zero, Aras said. During that time, she added, NJSFAC-affiliated volunteer crews also answered every 9-1-1 call received in their own municipalities.
NJ EMS volunteers have provided assistance to New York and Pennsylvania neighbors on numerous occasions, including: the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993; the Northeast blackouts in 1997 and 2003; the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane landing, with more than 20 ambulances and 100 volunteer EMTs providing passengers and crew with medical assessments, treatment and transport to hospitals; and most recently the “Christmas Blizzard of 2010.”
“Of the 2,232 requests made for 9/11 artifacts, the NJSFAC was among 1,132 organizations to be chosen,” Executive Director Edward Jan Burdzy said.
Burdzy, of Holland Township, Treasurer Ken Weinberg of Pittstown, Membership Secretary Sue Meyer of Summit and Mary Luster of Kingwood Township, the NJSFAC’s 10th District chairperson, accepted the artifact on the council’s behalf.
“This steel beam represents the irrepressible spirit our volunteers display every day, answering hundreds of thousands of calls annually – free of charge -- and we are grateful for the honor and responsibility of its safe-keeping,” Burdzy said.
The council plans to display the WTC beam prominently in the exhibit hall during its annual convention and educational symposium at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City Oct. 20-22. Council-affiliated volunteers who responded on 9/11 will be asked to sign a plaque, which will be displayed with the artifact at NJSFAC headquarters in Sayreville.
During the convention, members also plan to hold a 10th anniversary memorial service for all who lost their lives on 9/11.