the unwritten personal statement

It was nearing the end of our shift in the mobile medical van. “It’s doubtful anyone will show up towards nine,” Geoffrey said, “but you never know what’ll happen.”

On a sunny Tuesday morning in September, I sat in my studio apartment in Queens and, on a thirteen-inch television screen, watched the two tallest buildings in New York fall, while friends only a few miles away watched in real life. Definitely didn’t know that would happen.

I nodded. “Gotta be prepared.”

I became a licensed amateur radio operator when I was younger to be able to help with communications in emergencies. There was a call for hams to help with the rescue effort at Ground Zero. Only my radio was at home in Chicago. Not ready to help at all.

The bridges and tunnels were shut down. I went to a blood center on Long Island and found a line many blocks long. A man asked to borrow my cell phone so he could call his family. At least I could do that.

Sadly, it turns out, even those in a position to assist were powerless. Doctors, nurses, everyone at area hospitals readied themselves for the worst, waiting for victims that were already beyond saving.

But looking at what they could have done, if they had the chance–I want to be there, too.