Anyone who was around that day will always remember what they were doing when they saw or heard that planes had hit the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11. For days, people tried to find out if their loved ones were okay. For months, the nation worried about other terrorist attacks, like those that happened in NYC or the plane that crashed into the Pentagon or the one that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And for years, we’ve remembered and commemorated the day—to grieve those who were killed and to thank those who helped.
But imagine if you were working as a nurse in New York City on that day.
Pritee Rudnick, RN, was working as a nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of New York City on a surgical telemetry floor on September 11th. “I remember we were waiting for patients to come in, but not too many came in—our ER only saw minor casualties. We tried to discharge the stable patients to prepare for any major casualties to come in,” Rudnick recalls. “I remember I was in a patient’s room. I was suctioning their airway Trache and facing the patient, when [I noticed] the patient was clearly upset from watching the news. I found out as the patient was watching the news, and I had to calm the patient and my other patients as they were too upset about the news of 9/11.”
She also remembers: “It was a very weird, sad feeling as we were preparing for major casualties, but those went downtown closer to the Twin Towers, mainly to NYU. I remember days after going to the hospital felt very strange and sad to know how many peoples’ lives were lost. As the years have gone on, I will never forget working that day.”
Rudnick still works at Lenox Hill Hospital. “There has been a huge turnover of staff since 9/11, and the senior staff has always been in sympathy of those times. But since we see so much all the time, we have moved on from 9/11,” says Rudnick. But I will always remember that day, especially since this past year has been very difficult on staff from the pandemic.”
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 arrives, let us remember all the nurses who were working that day—whether they were close to the front lines or not.