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  • Writer's picturejodi

Where Were You?

Updated: Sep 11, 2022

Where were you on this day,

twenty one years ago?

Like many,

I remember exactly where I was.

I was working.

It was one of my first nursing positions,

in a Surgical Day Stay Unit.

The unit was one big rectangular room.

It housed eight stretchers,

a nursing desk

and two patient restrooms.

The patient area was usually quiet,

in sound volume,

not workload.

A calm space for patient recovery & discharge.

The sun beamed through the windows that morning.

A beautiful September day.

A fellow nurse returned from her morning coffee break.

She told us that a plane had flown into the World Trade Centre in New York.

It piqued the interest of staff and patients that had overheard,

as most Breaking News does.

Like most, we had no idea what was really happening,

so we carried on with our day.

Not long after,

when a second nurse returned from her coffee break,

she told us that a second plane had hit the World Trade Centre.

That was when the energy in the room shifted.

Someone, I don't recall whom,

spoke the words "intentional" and "terrorist attack".

Then silence.

A radio was turned up loudly to air the news.

It sat on a window sill across the room from the nursing desk.

I remember thinking 'I've never even noticed that we have a radio.'

Hearing the news reporter's voice filling the quiet space was eerie.

What he was saying made it so much worse.

Then More Planes.

I remember when the nurse manager walked into the room.

It was rare to hear the clicking of heels.

She questioned the charge nurse ~

"How many stretchers fit in this room?"

Without skipping a beat she replied "We have oxygen set up on the walls for eight."

The nurse manger replied in a stern, unwavering tone ~

"No. How many stretchers can you FIT in this room?"

The charge nurse looked around and started doing the math.

Something was spoken in a hushed tone about "Disaster Mode".

At this point, my mind spun a little,

I thought;

'That's it,

I'm out,

I want to leave.

I just want my kids.

I just want to leave work and go pick up my kids from school.'

That feeling of fear that I had,

I realize

is minuscule in comparison to the fear

of those whose eyes could visualize what was happening from their windows.

But it was fear.

But that

Wasn't it.

I wasn't out.

I didn't leave.

And at the end of my shift,

when the room was empty

and the patients had all safely gone home,

I sat down at the nursing desk.

I picked up the phone

and dialled the number

that was

provided by the manager.

I then gave my name,

my credentials,

and volunteered my nursing skills

to New York City.

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