For nearly twenty years, Umberto Joseph DeJesus has worked as an EMT and physician assistant in emergency rooms around New York City. September 11, 2001 was his day off.
At StoryCorps, Umberto talks to his wife, Nancy Cardona, about going to Ground Zero as a volunteer.
Click here for the transcript.
Umberto Joseph DeJesus (UJD): I did, I thought you were crazy. But I put on the radio right away then I heard, and I didn't even think twice. I picked up my stethoscope, I flagged an emergency vehicle, hopped on.
NC: Here you are telling me you're going to go out there, and the one thing I wanted to do was hold on to you and hide. But you said, "No, this is not what we do."
UJD: When we got down there it was so quiet, smoke all over the place, you could barely see. And I remember coming out of the smoke was a guy with his shirt collar open, his tie hanging down, and I noticed he was a high-ranking police officer, you know he had a gold shield, and he was bleeding. So I told him to hang out until we could get him to a hospital.
And he says, "I cant stay here." He says, "I've got to go back to my men, they were under the building when it went down. " So I couldn't stop him, and I just saw him walk away into that smoke.
And that's the way it was.
You know, there wasn't that much to say to each other. It's like we knew what we had to do, and we just went to doing it. That's something I'll never forget.