Twin Towers attack hits Forest Hills volunteers

By Daniel Massey

Shortly before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, members of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to a call for assistance at the World Trade Center following the terrorist attack against the Twin Towers.

At 10:05 a.m., the company’s ambulance was crushed beneath the rubble of Tower Two on West Street following the skyscraper’s dramatic collapse.

The two crew members on duty escaped without major injuries, said Bryce Friedman, vice president of the corps. But he said one of the Forest Hills volunteers is still missing.

Friedman would not disclose his identity.

“It’s not clear at this point whether he was working in the area or went over to help and got caught in the mess,” Friedman said. “He was not on the duty crew.”

The two volunteers described the experience as “the most harrowing of their lives,” Friedman said. “They were standing next to people who didn’t make it out.”

A dozen other volunteers from the Forest Hills company responded to the emergency, reporting to the organization’s Metropolitan Avenue headquarters. They loaded a city bus with equipment and rushed into the medical staging area at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

“They treated mostly injured rescue workers,” Friedman said.

In addition to losing its fully equipped ambulance, the Forest Hills volunteers donated a large amount of equipment to the rescue effort. “We lost a ton of equipment that we brought down there to help out with initial thrust,” Friedman said. “It’s taking an effort to rebuild.”

Friedman estimated he needs to raise $30,000 to get the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, founded in 1971, up and running again and $100,000 to get it back to where it was before the terrorist attack.

The organization has started an ambulance replacement fund and an Emergency Medical Services memorial fund.

“We’re hoping people and community groups will take on a piece of equipment and sponsor that item and then work with us to replace that item,” Friedman said.

Among other items, the corps needs two new cardiac defibrillators, priced at $6,500 each. “Every penny counts,” Friedman said.

People wishing to donate to either fund can send contributions to PO Box 750617, Forest Hills, NY 11375.

Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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