CopShock: Second Edition
Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR


Chapter 3:  9/11 (continued)



He turned toward 6 World Trade, his back to the crumbling north tower. On his right was one of the beams that supported the upper floors of 6 World Trade, and it protected his right side. His air tank protected his back. Nothing protected his left.

He knelt down and curled into a ball.

That’s when the pulverized cement and glass and ground up office equipment hit ground level, and the debris cascaded towards him in a churning toxic cloud.

“I was getting hit with debris, and I was like, Holy shit, that hurt. And the next chunk that hit me was a little bigger, and it hurt a little more, and it was getting progressively worse. I was getting buried, and resigned myself to the fact that this was the day I was gonna die.”

He reached for his face piece attached by a hose to his air tank to try to get some air, but it was down by his ankles, already buried.

The debris piled up over his knees and then over his waist. Very soon he would be completely buried.

“They say when you’re dying, your whole life passes before your eyes. It wasn’t like that for me. I thought about my wife. I thought about leaving her a widow, and we hadn’t had any kids yet.

“And I thought about how they were gonna find me when they dug me out, curled up in the fetal position, and for some reason that bothered the hell out of me. I said to myself, I can’t let them find me like this.”

That’s what prompted Jimmy to push off the debris burying him and stand up, and when he did, “I expected to get sliced in half by a beam.”

He realized then that the windows in 6 World Trade were busted out. “I figured that inside had to be better, because where I’m at I’m definitely dead.” And he dived headfirst into the building.

Then it occurred to him that there were several sub-basement levels, and he didn’t know if there was a floor inside the building he was diving into. “The floor mighta gotten knocked down, and, for all I know, I’m falling six stories.”

He landed on his back, face up, on the floor just underneath the windowsill. His helmet was gone, and the debris surging over him filled his mouth, nose and eyes with dust.

Several seconds later, everything stopped. It was quiet. No wind, no voices. He couldn’t even hear the sound of his heart beating.

“It was like every sense was turned off. You couldn’t see anything because it was pitch black. You couldn’t hear anything because the fine particles of dust in the air blanketed the sound. You couldn’t hear yourself talk. You couldn’t breathe.”

Jimmy got up on his hands and knees and sat on the windowsill. He took off his gloves, shoved a hand in his mouth and tried to scrape the muck out of his mouth with his fingernails.

“I couldn’t get up any spit. The dust was so fine, it soaked up the moisture in your mouth. I tried breathing, and every time I took in a deep breath, it seared my lungs. So I tried to take short, shallow breaths.”

He dug around for his face piece, shook it out, put it on, and turned on the tank’s air regulator. But even though he thought he’d cleaned out the mask, the forced air blasted fine dust down into his lungs, and he ripped it off his face and choked.

Jimmy couldn’t see anything, not even the glow from small fires surrounding him. It was so dark and silent, he didn’t know if he was inside or outside. Once the dust settled, he could see hazy beams of sunlight coming through the blown out windows. Then he realized he was outside. He didn’t know how he got there.

“I thought I was the only one left.”

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008, 2022 by Allen R. Kates

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