DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Carved deep in the landscape of our country, the memories of 9/11 are just as deep for everyone who watched it unfold. The images and magnitude of the deliberate and sadistic assault on American soil are still unimaginable, even for those who were on the ground.
As we reflect back on one of the worst tragedies in our country’s most recent history, a Miami Valley doctor is sharing his experience of responding to Ground Zero immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks.
“It was a very eerie scene,” states Dr. Randy Marriott, Medical Director for Premier Health EMS Center of Excellence. “It wasn’t until coming back that I saw what was depicted on television–the scope and size. The film does not do it justice.”
In the early 90s, Dr. Marriott became involved with a local rescue team, known today as Ohio Task Force 1. In 2001, he and his team had no idea how important their work would become. Their first deployment was on 9/11 answering America’s most urgent call.
“I think for all of us on Ohio Task Force 1, to know that our dedication to our jobs and our mission was such that on our country’s worst day they called us, I think that’s pretty gratifying,” states Dr. Marriott.
With streets buried in debris, Ohio Task Force 1 began a seemingly impossible search and rescue mission at Ground Zero and the surrounding areas. While rescuers looked for survivors and responded to the victims, Dr. Marriott looked after the rescuers and their K9 counterparts.
“They sustained cuts particularly on their paws and so forth when they’re going over sharp debris,” describes Dr. Marriott. “They also become dehydrated. They work hard. These dogs are highly trained, highly disciplined animal.”
Dr. Marriott goes on to say, “K9’s serve several purposes. Aside from being a highly valuable search tool they’re also there for morale. They’re almost like therapy dogs at times too.”
Ten days spent on the ground combing through wreckage where the Twin Towers once stood, translated into a life-long mission of service with the other disasters the team would eventually respond to.
“Twenty years later we are still active,” states Dr. Marriott.
Most recently he responded to Surfside, Florida for the condo collapse, which he says was chillingly similar in hazard and scope.
“It is probably the first deployment that we’ve had since 9/11 that involved heavy structural collapse and the type of breaching, breaking, and removing of large sections of concrete that had to be accomplished,” described Dr. Marriott.
While the principles of safety and caring for the team were the same, the deadly condo collapse in some ways was worse, according to Dr. Marriott.
“It was worse in the sense that you have whole families that perished together and you didn’t have that at Ground Zero–and by whole families, that included children. We didn’t deal with child victims at 9/11, and I think in some ways that adds a dimension that creates more of a burden on the rescuers,” says Dr. Marriott.
The two missions 20 years apart mirror each other.
The deployment to New York on 9/11 was just the beginning of the never-ending work and mission of Ohio Task Force 1 and Dr. Marriott.
Dr. Marriott’s rank and experience has helped anchor him and keep him grounded as he continues to help heal the scars that will never disappear.
“Ground Zero was our first appointment but by far not our last,” says Dr. Marriott. “We are still answering our country’s call.”