Saturday, October 06, 2001

Area emergency workers reflect on 9-11

70 attend service in Covington

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — They pray more, say “I love you” more, and spend more time with their families.

        Firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians agree that Sept. 11 made them re-evaluate their lives and makes them feel more unified with their colleagues nationwide.

        “It made me (tell) my mother, my father, my fiancee that I love them ... just on a whim,” said Josh Quinn, 29, a deputy with the Boone County Sheriff's Office. “It doesn't make me do my job any different. (But) personally, I'm a little frightened.”

        Mr. Quinn played the bagpipes Friday at a memorial Mass at Mother of God Church in Covington. About 70 uniformed police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians came from as far as Gary, Ind., to honor their fallen New York colleagues.

        Many agreed that their lives would never be the same. They have their training to rely on, but they now pray while responding to emergencies. Sept. 11 is always on their minds.

"They struck terror'

        “The word "terrorists' itself is a few people that invoke fear in a people. That's exactly what these guys did. They struck terror in every American, every Tristater in the area. We're just as scared as the next person,” said Mr. Quinn.

        Covington Fire Lt. Tom Brinkman, 49, prayed as he rushed Thursday to a brush fire. Sept. 11 reminded him of the dangers implicit in his job. The tragedy has motivated him to spend more time with his wife, five children and two grandchildren.

        He took his granddaughter — Sydney Humphrey, 5 — to Friday's Mass because she wanted to be there.

        Before Sept. 11, Florence EMT Karen Bruce also was working a mall job and pursuing a theater degree at Northern Kentucky University. She had recently enrolled in the Florence Fire Academy.

        Witnessing New York firefighters at work caused her to veer from her theater interests and wholeheartedly pursue a firefighting career.

        Ms. Bruce, 21, said she felt as if “I really should be there. It's just something I feel I should do.”

Anguished firefighters

        Rick Albers, chief of the North Oldham Fire Department in Kentucky, said that he now worries about sending firefighters out. He was sitting in his office when he was told that a jetliner crashed into the World Trade Center. He turned on the TV and firefighters gathered around it. Then the companion building took a hit from a second jetliner.

        “You could have heard a pin drop in the firehouse that day. Knowing (firefighters) had perished. That was just painful to watch,” he said. “It makes you think more ... about what you and your people do. You always come in not knowing if you'll go home. You always think that way, but this has driven that home.”

        Some have said the events of Sept. 11 made their jobs easier.

        Jeff Winkler, 36, is a deputy with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. He helps staff the metal detectors at the courthouse. Before Sept. 11, people would get upset if he told them to hand over nail clippers. Now they don't say a word.

        Marty Finan, an EMT in Covington, had taken a day off Sept. 11. It was his 30th birthday, and he wanted to enjoy the day with his family. “I'll remember my 30th birthday forever. Now, I'm not the kid I was. I worry about my kids and what they'll have to live through after all of this,” he said.


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