When 911 dispatchers began ordering emergency workers to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, two Fordham emergency medical technicians hopped in their ambulance and raced down to the scene. Junior Salvador R. Collazo and senior John Genua, both trained Fordham EMS workers, were near Fulton Street when the second tower collapsed. As the cloud of dust and debris swept across lower Manhattan, people rushed toward the Fordham ambulance asking for face masks and help. Collazo and Genua transported six people, two of them suffering from severe asthma attacks, to St. Clare’s Hospital and Health Center on W. 52nd St. They then returned to “Ground Zero” for their next assignment. The pair spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday answering unrelated 911 calls from around the city, while city EMS workers tended to injuries at the World Trade Center. “I think what they did is very heroic,” said Bernard Stratford, dean of Student Life.
“They responded immediately and came to the aid of the victims of this tragedy. The University is very proud of them and their work.” This is not the first time Fordham EMS has responded to a crisis outside of the University. Fordham EMS units were also on the scene in 1993 after the World Trade Center bombing. Fordham is part of a citywide emergency radio network known as the Mutual Aid Radio System (MARS), which is used to notify private ambulance companies when the city’s system is overburdened with calls. Fordham’s EMS Director Corey Nascenzi, a senior sociology major, manned the telephones at the EMS center while Collazo and Genua were on duty downtown. The pair called in several times report their location and let Nascenzi know they were OK.
Two days after the tragic events, Nascenzi and EMT Rob Sproule, a senior environmental and political science major, rode down to St. Vincent’s Hospital to assist in the emergency efforts. A week after the Sept. 11 disaster, Collazo and Genua said they have had time to reflect on the enormity of what happened right before their eyes. “Being EMTs, we wanted to help,” said Collazo, who is taking a leave of absence from Fordham to attend Methodist Hospital’s Paramedics School. “When you are dealing with an emergency, you don’t realize its seriousness until you have a chance to stand still and relax.” Genua agreed. “I wasn’t really thinking about myself that day,” he said. “We were right down there in the thick of it. I was going to try to get as many people out of there as I could.” But since then, he’s had time to consult a map and see just how close they were to the unfolding disaster. “It kind of opened my eyes,” Genua said. “People just like me got into their ambulances that day never expecting anything like this. The loss of life that went on down there is indescribable.”