MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG)– The following is Devon’s Walsh’s first-hand account of covering the 9/11 tragedy.
Covering the September 11 tragedy two decades ago was the most memorable story of my career. Shortly after the attacks, we learned that members of Mobile Fire Rescue’s DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) were activated to help treat first responders who were working at the “Pile.” The pile was the site of the two collapsed buildings. My photographer, Randy Lowe, and I knew that we wanted to highlight what our local crews were doing, so we got in the car and drove straight to NYC. At that time, air travel was grounded.
When we arrived at the “Pile,” I was speechless. I had to wear coveralls, goggles, and a respirator because of all the smoke and dust in the air. We were shocked by the enormity of the destruction. There was so much metal and debris everywhere. Thousands of people had died, but there were no bodies anywhere. It was a scene I still have trouble describing to this day. You just had to be there so explain how awful it was.
What struck me was how hard-working our local first responders were. They were working around the clock. Jeff Turner, Dr. John McMahon, George Watson, Tony Rutland, Doug Sims, Randy Smith were just some of the men who we spent a lot of time with. They saw things they could not even talk about. They were happy they were there to help their fellow first responders.
We shot as much video as we could, and then drove back to Mobile. I tried really hard to convey the kindness that our local first responders were conveying to their fellow brothers in New York City. To this day, that really stands out to me. They were tired, hot, breathing in dirty air, but they didn’t care. They just wanted to do what they could to help.
Looking back, it was a privilege to be able to tell the stories of our local crews at 9/11. I had a front-row to history, and I learned what the law enforcement brotherhood really means.
You can watch all my stories from September 2001 below: