Our 9/11 Heroes

August 30, 2019

Of the 3,000 victims killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, some 600 were union members. The majority were firefighters, but members from many other unions also lost their lives. Today, first responders continue to suffer illnesses and early deaths resulting from exposure to ground zero toxins.

Many 9/11 heroes were not at Ground Zero. Members at nearby St. Vincent’s and New York Downtown hospitals, for example, were part of the frontline team of healthcare workers who cared for survivors, toiling around the clock to save lives, treat wounds and provide comfort.

New York Downtown, just a few block from ground zero, was the first hospital to treat injured victims. As black clouds and smoke filled the sky, terrified and wounded patients were wheeled in or walked into the hospital on their own power. “There was screaming and crying, and some people were walking around in a daze,” said ER registrar Betty Nelson.

Some 1199ers lost loved ones killed in the attack and its aftermath. 1199 photo photographer Jim Tynan and writer-editor Patricia Kenney rushed to St. Vincent’s to record the heroic work of St. Vincent staffers.

“I have never been as proud of my co-workers as I was during those first days after the attack,” a St. Vincent’s social worker told 1199 News.

To assist those suffering from psychological effects of the devastation, the 1199SEIU Benefit Fund set up a helpline answered by a multi-lingual staff of social workers. And 1199 contributed more than $50,000 to the SEIU Sept. 11th Relief Fund.