County officials unveiled the newest addition to the Sept. 11 Memorial at Essex County's Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange Wednesday morning — a bronze plaque honoring emergency medical technicians that responded to 9/11.
During the hour-long ceremony, fog settled over the reservation obscuring the otherwise clear view of New York City. Nearly 10 years ago, the city's horizon was again shrouded in gray — enveloped by soot, smoke and dust. But while some first responders rushed to Ground Zero, many Essex County emergency medical service personnel remained on this side of the Hudson River waiting for commuters who were streaming in, injured and coated in debris.
"There were scores of people covered with dust, trains were full of commuters requiring assistance," said John Grembowiec Sr., director of EMS at University Hospital. "We deeply appreciate this tribute."
Grembowiec said EMS personnel were stationed at the Hoboken train station, Liberty State Park in Jersey City and along the Hudson River front in the aftermath of 9/11.
The county's Sept. 11 memorial opened a year following the attacks and was the first memorial to include the names of all 3,000 who died on that day. The plaque is the first accolade for EMS personnel as the memorial already includes a tribute to police and fire departments.
"Every year we added something for groups and organizations that had a role in what happened that day. We want to make sure this involves everyone, because what happened on that day is a part of history," Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. told Patch.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said EMT's are "an important part of the tripod that is law enforcement." "These folks respond without trepidation, there is no sweeter sound to a fallen cop than the sound of (an EMT vehicle) … we know help is coming," he said.
A large stone sits in the Sept. 11 memorial, emblazoned with a bronze plaque that reads:
"September 11, 2001 – A Day When People Responded to Terror with Full Hearts and Helping Hands. Emergency Medical Service personnel across the country were among the first responders to all sites under attack. While NY Fire Department EMTs sped to the shattered World Trade Center, EMTs on this side of the Hudson River began to treat and comfort survivors arriving by ferry at Hoboken and Jersey City. EMTs were among those trapped and lost as the Twin Towers collapsed, many others remained to labor for months, joined by volunteers from all over America, to clear rubble and search for remains or identifiable objects. These gallant men and women have earned the respect and recognition of our grateful nation."
The ceremony came a day after .
DiVincenzo said the Sept. 11 memorial was built from private donations after he witnessed thousands of residents congregating on the ledge peering into New York's altered cityscape. "This was the place where this had to built," he said. "On a clear day you could actually feel like you could touch those buildings."