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Comm group, tactical 1 simply was not designed to handle the number of
units operating on it that morning.
The primary Field Comm van had access to the NYPD's Special Opera-
tions channel (used by NYPD Aviation), but it was in the garage for repairs on
September 11.The backup van lacked that capability.
The Chief of Department, along with civilian commissioners and senior
EMS chiefs, organized ambulances on West Street to expedite the transport of
injured civilians to hospitals.
To our knowledge, none of the chiefs present believed that a total collapse
of either tower was possible. One senior chief did articulate his concern that
upper floors could begin to collapse in a few hours, and that firefighters thus
should not ascend above floors in the 60s.That opinion was not conveyed to
chiefs in the North Tower lobby, and there is no evidence that it was conveyed
to chiefs in the South Tower lobby either.
Although the Chief of Department had general authority over operations,
tactical decisions remained the province of the lobby commanders. The
highest-ranking officer in the North Tower was responsible for communicat-
ing with the Chief of Department. They had two brief conversations. In the
first, the senior lobby chief gave the Chief of Department a status report and
confirmed that this was a rescue, not firefighting, operation. In the second con-
versation, at about 9:45, the Chief of Department suggested that given how the
North Tower appeared to him, the senior lobby chief might want to consider
evacuating FDNY personnel.
At 9:46, the Chief of Department called an additional fifth alarm, and at 9:54
an additional 20 engine and 6 ladder companies were sent to the WTC. As a
result, more than one-third of all FDNY companies now had been dispatched
to the WTC.At about 9:57, an EMS paramedic approached the FDNY Chief of
Department and advised that an engineer in front of 7 WTC had just remarked
that the Twin Towers in fact were in imminent danger of a total collapse.
NYPD Response
Immediately after the second plane hit, the Chief of Department of the NYPD
ordered a second Level 4 mobilization, bringing the total number of NYPD
officers responding to close to 2,000.
The NYPD Chief of Department called for Operation Omega, which
required the protection of sensitive locations around the city. NYPD headquar-
ters were secured and all other government buildings were evacuated.
The ESU command post at Church and Vesey streets coordinated all NYPD
ESU rescue teams.After the South Tower was hit, the ESU officer running this
command post decided to send one ESU team (each with approximately six
police officers) up each of the Twin Towers' stairwells.While he continued to
monitor the citywide SOD channel, which NYPD helicopters were using, he
also monitored the point-to-point tactical channel that the ESU teams climb-
ing in the towers would use.
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