|Paper||Hill Air Force Base Newspapers|
|Rights||No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Hill Air Force Base Newspapers|
HJrtop,v Ksifti' r W Jl) t 15 2C21 At ground zero employee volunteers as mass care Red Cross worker Hill by Mary Galbraith Hilltop Times staff While emergency workers spent weeks searching for survivors in World Trade Center rubble, one Hill employee played an important role a few miles from ground zero. Jerry Downing, an electrical mechanic in the Electronics Directorate, spent three weeks in Brooklyn last month as a mass care volunteer at the Red Cross headquarters. Mass care is responsible for feeding and caring for victims and relief workers during disasters. Downing received a call Friday, Sept. 28. "I called my boss because it was my day off," he said. "They wanted me to go out on Monday. She said, 'See you when you get back." Downing has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1983, and on the Disaster Services team since 1991. While in New York, he assigned incoming volunteers to various kitchens, landfill centers and respite centers near ground zero. Volunteers from around the country processed through Downing's office during his three weeks. "We started at seven and ended at seven for the first week," he said. By his second week, things had relented and he spent the final two weeks working After 18 days, eight-hou-r shifts from 4 he also received a day off to recuperate. Although days were long, Downing said he was rejuvenated by the receptiveness of New Yorkers. "The buses we rode to work had Red Cross markers on them and you'd see the people waving American flags and big signs saying 'thank you.' It was really responsive and a pleasure to see how the people were reacting," he said. Downing used his annual leave to take time of f and the Red Cross covered hotel and other expenses. Delta Airlines paid for his tickets. He was between project cycles and an item he was scheduled to work on during the time he spent in New York was put on the back burner, without affecting the mission. Although he helped with the tragedy, he wasn't on the front lines or anywhere near ground zero. "The site is off limits for sightseeing and photo taking because it is still a federal crime scene. About the closest you could get was five blocks away and then you couldn't see much," he said. Those who were on the front lines were mentally and physically exhausted after a shift, Downing said, so respite centers were established so workers could rest, eat and wind down before heading home. "Most of the police and fire firefighters said after about five or six days it was very tiring work and they had to get away from it," he said. "That was one of the reasons for the respite center. They had 40 TVs in one room recliners andfour or five p.m.-midnig- ht Photo by Chaplain (Capt.) Ken Beale I recovery efforts; ver be forgotten center, they would see many workers come in, sit down and literally hold their heads in their hands while eating. "It is obvious these workers were so tired that they could barely hold their own heads up," said Keith. nd Amber Rutsey couple was offered to New York and dis-gazi- titled tribute to rescue :sperately wanted to ray with the recovery Remem-i- a The dining tables were covered with pictures and letters from children from all over the United States. "Every once and a while we would see one of the firefighters smile after reading the heartfelt sentiments of a child," said Amber. As the Rutseys themselves read some of the childrens' letters, they too were compelled to smile. Many of the letters were filled with hopeful sentiments like, "I hope you save a lot of people" and "Take care of yourselves." Most of the conversations the couple had with site workers revolved around the fact the couple came from Utah. It was almost ir attacks at the World incredible for them to fathom people would earing of the oppor- - be so willing to volunteer with the recovery I ach other for a split from this tragedy. r in Air Keith the was that accepted, Upon learning w reservations about Force and that Amber worked on munitions responsible for fund- - technical orders for the Air Force, the worklad to take leave of ers complimented and supported thfAutseys s. After careful con-1- :, for their efforts in defending our cJntry. "If God wants us to "They view members of the military, like vide a means for us we view rescue workers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks," said Keith. ue to lack of funding, The most memorable aspects of their trip le calls and we raised occurred when they passed an entire wall re needed for our fare covered with photographs of firefighters and th. police officers listed as missing. 'and family donated There were row upon row of faces," said their trip, which was Keith. etes in Action sub- This is when they realized that the numis Crusade for Christ. bers they've heard in the news were simply Kutseys learned they a figure. Is at the respite cen-n- n "It's not a numberanymore, they were indiRed the Cross. viduals who had families and people who by )vides meals, coun- - cared about them," said Amber. i 1 i i : i f Photos by Mary Galbraith Jerry Downing said the twin towers pin, above, was the only one he saw during the three weeks he volunteered for the Red Cross in New York City. Downing worked as a mass care volunteer at Red Cross headquarters in Brooklyn. big-scree- n where they could lay back and relax and watch ' ' t movies." .... . Professionals with skills ranging from mental health specialties to massage therapists volunteered in the centers. , W- Because the trade center buildings contained asbestos, relief workers' clothing was destroyed once they left the disaster site. Workers either brought a change of clothes and changed at the centers, or wore clothes donated by merchants. ' Septll deeply impacted volunteers as well as rescue workers, Downing said. "It took a toll on people and the amount of people that we processed in 21 days showed me my time was of value because we were running out of volunteers," he said. Besides CPRand First Aid certifications, two disaster services courses are required to be a team member. Downing is certified in several other courses, including emergency response vehicle training, shelter operation and simulation and family service assistance. He routinely teaches Red Cross courses. "I would go back if I could," he said. "When I left, they were saying it would be at least six months before they're not needed and it could go even longer than a year." - .!:? . 01.T :SJ - f " - ' ,i ; -- ' . . l- rfirrni'-- m . r': it t i " Vs- - . nrW"MiryN ... ' a J i J-- ,f . - 0 T ft. x- v.'v;-- Devestatlon at ground zero. w--- - w-'- i Photo by Chaplain (Capt.) KwyBeale '