PHILADELPHIA - When the 9/11 attacks first happened, first responders from all over responded including a group of first responders from Philadelphia.
Among that group was Chief Greg Masi (who was then a sergeant) and on Saturday, he joined Good Day Philadelphia to recount his experience on 9/11.
Chief Greg Masi is a member of the volunteer organization called the Philadelphia Second Alarmers – a group that provides rest and rehabilitation services to firefighters and police officers at emergency scenes. Among those services include providing food and equipment to those first responders.
Twenty years ago, Masi was in the Philadelphia 911 center and within about a half an hour they realized that 9/11 was no accident.
Quickly, it became a full activation which meant that all state and local agencies began to respond to New York.
Later that evening, Chief Masi learned he would be going to New York as early as the next day. Only four people went among that crew.
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"The next morning at 3 a.m. we left the round house, NYPD was waiting for us at the Lincoln Tunnel," Chief Masi explained. There they received a briefing on the events of 9/11 and what their mission would be.
"We really didn't see anybody until we began to proceed down to Ground Zero," he explained. He recounts the number of families that would come up to their car windows with photos of their loved ones. He remembered that experience as both heartbreaking and frustrating as he couldn't help to do more.
"Each one of us had a specific task – mine was specifically communication," Chief Masi explained. He was responsible for fact-finding and helping communicate as New York lost a lot of its communication in the event.
It was important for Chief Masi to learn how to overcome the event should it ever happen again or in a place like Philadelphia.
"Thankfully, our firefighters and police officers can talk to each other on the same radio," Chief Masi explained, one of the innovative things to come out of the event.
Now, 20 years later, Chief Masi recalls 9/11 as being fresh in his mind.
"So many people that day became part of an American tragedy without their choice," he said. "But through every tragedy, something good, I believe, happens."
As a result of 9/11, many first responders have begun to lose their lives in the aftermath as a result of illnesses.