Local medic recalls service at ground zero in the aftermath of 9/11

Mary Vance from Maumee recalls her time treating first responders at ground zero site in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (WNWO).

MAUMEE, Ohio (WNWO) -- "When you got there on scene you could not imagine, and there's no way anybody else can size up how enormous this disaster scene was, you had to be there."

Mary Vance has been a part of the OH-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) for nearly 30 years. The federal response unit is made up of highly trained health care professionals that are ready to deploy 24/7.

One of the scenes she assisted on, was ground zero after the September 11, terrorist attacks.

"It was like you didn't know what to say, the enormity of that scene could never be done it pictures, you had to be there and you almost had to feel it," Mary said. "When you walked around a lot of dirt and dust it was very solemn and you were walking on hollow ground, because you didn't know if you were walking on somebody's ashes or not."

The teams main responsibilities were to treat the first responders that were searching through the pile of debris, where the twin towers of World Trade Center fell.

"They didn't want to quit they wanted to find their brothers and at that time they had still not found the guys that were down in the lobby yet," Mary said. "Then we could see the pictures that people had posted of their families, have you seen have you seen, it was just very, very sad and very heartbreaking is the only way you can say it."

Now, Mary is a critical care nurse, paramedic and the last member of the OH-1 DMAT team that responded to ground zero.

She has a tradition to keep the memory alive.

"So when I go to work on 9/11 wherever I'm working I always bring this as a way of tribute to them, and I think the younger kids today may not appreciate that so much but it's history," Mary said.

With the number of people that have died as a result of the toxic debris in the air at the scene, Mary said she still wonders about those countless people she treated.

"When you hear of how many of these guys died of cancer, I often wonder how many are still alive today if any of them."

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