May 26, 2005

Disobedience Saved 2,500 in WTC Mass-Murder
— Ace

They were told to stay put; many didn't. They were told to avoid the elevators; many ignored this advice and got to street level as quickly as possible.

Good on them.

I know -- through a friend -- someone who did the same thing. This guy was rather old, and he had been through the 1993 garage-bombing of the building. And he knew how long it would take to walk down upwards of 100 floors of stairs. Especially for an old man, but I can't imagine too many twenty-somethings would be sanguine about that sort of downward trek, either.

So, after the first airplane struck the first tower, when his bosses said "Sit tight, we'll be okay," he said, "Screw you guys, I'm going home."

And headed for the stairwells. And got the hell out of Dodge.

And it probably saved his life, of course.

Thanks to NickS.

Posted by: Ace at 09:37 AM | Comments (33)
Post contains 160 words, total size 1 kb.

1 > he knew how long it would take to walk down upwards

Heh. Indeed.

Posted by: Guy T. at May 26, 2005 09:39 AM (j02xJ)

2 A relative of mine works in the Sears Tower in Chicago. A couple months after 9/11, they had some kind of security scare there. I don't remember whether it was a plane or a bomb, but it was a threat to the building that was being taken very seriously.

So what did they tell her and her coworkers to do? Yep, that's right: Stay put, everything's under control, blah blah blah. They kind of looked at each other, said "yeah right", and got the hell out of the building as quickly as they could. And they stayed away from the building, too, until it was clear that it was a hoax or misunderstanding.

I think this "don't panic, stay right where you are, we'll take care of it" mentality is just so ingrained that it should seldom be trusted.

Posted by: Bob at May 26, 2005 09:48 AM (lSPur)

3 he knew how long it would take to walk down upwards

Hah. An unfortunate series of words, I grant you.

Posted by: ace at May 26, 2005 09:52 AM (Q6+G6)

4 Reminds me of the Civil Defense drills of the 1950's in which school kids were taught to get under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack despite the fact that after a total nuclear attack by the Soviet Union, as they used to say: the living would envy the dead. They might as well have bent over and kissed their own little asses goodby and be done with it all.

In the UK while they were preparing plans for delivering mail in the event of a nuclear strike one wag in Parliment said: I don't know what kind of a crew we would use to deliver the mail after a nuclear strike, but I imagine it'd be very akin to a "skeleton crew."

Posted by: 72 FLYING HALLUCINATIONS at May 26, 2005 10:26 AM (dhRpo)

5 Good thing he didn't respect his boss's authoritie...

Posted by: Tongueboy at May 26, 2005 10:27 AM (nug4S)

6 We evacuated our office building in San Antonio once. That was 28 stories.

I was 30 at the time and found it surprisingly difficult. I was sore for week. Many people did not make it. They simply could not have descended 28 stories in less than 2-3 hours, if at all.

100+ stories would be virtually impossible for some people. Even if their lives depended on it.

Posted by: Phinn at May 26, 2005 11:25 AM (DiZv6)

7 Mother Nature provides three main responses to danger; Fight, Freeze, or Flee. I've always been very partial to Fleeing.

Posted by: Master of None at May 26, 2005 11:55 AM (2c7xL)

8 Another problem not publically mentioned was firefighters impeding evacuation routes by stopping people from evacuating while they staged equipment and wrestled (in one stairwell) with assisting a very obese man who couldn't walk easily. In that stairwell, people bailed and went to another or to the elevators.

A guy I know who was in Tower #1 said it would have been better if the firefighters had never shown up. They were more of a hindrance than a help, they had no shot at fighting the fire and stopped evac to stage equipment, people had to ignore their orders to save their asses. He read the McKinsey report that slammed the firefighters and said McKinsey was too easy on them. The people in the WTC self-evacuated despite the firefighter's efforts to stop their getting out, that people who were below where the planes hit generally lived, those above generally died.

He thinks that the politician's need to make the firefighters the great heroes and the people of the WTC "helpless victims" guided to safety by the hero rescuers tainted later reports.....and he thinks the 340+ firefighters died trying to do what they thought was the right thing, but which made little difference in who lived and who died that day.

Posted by: Cedarford at May 26, 2005 11:57 AM (HoSBk)

9 "For more than four years"?

Posted by: Mohammed Atta's cock at May 26, 2005 12:22 PM (z4es9)

10 I was working for Morgan Stanley at the time, in midtown; I knew a few of the Morgan Stanley people in the WTC. Amost all of the Morgan people got out because they evacuated immediately after the first plane hit (they were in the second tower to get hit). They did this in spite of announcements saying to go back to their desks, that everything was OK.

Posted by: morpheus at May 26, 2005 12:59 PM (O9kZt)

11 He thinks that the politician's need to make the firefighters the great heroes and the people of the WTC "helpless victims" guided to safety by the hero rescuers tainted later reports.....and he thinks the 340+ firefighters died trying to do what they thought was the right thing, but which made little difference in who lived and who died that day

True enough. I'd only add that the Normandy paratrooper killed inside the plane before he even got to jump made little difference too. Is he a hero? Goddamned right he is! Anyone who lays their life on the line for others, no matter how small or large their part, is a hero.

Posted by: 72VIRGINS at May 26, 2005 01:10 PM (dhRpo)

12 Sorta agree, 72Virgins. I was objecting to the conventional wisdom that all the evacuees were helpless victims who owed their lives to the "hero firefighters" who guided them to safety. That is not how it went down. As for the hero label, not all soldiers or uniformed government employees are automatically heroes by job title. Which is why the military and paramilitary gov't organizations like firefighters have narrowed who is and who is not a hero in their ranks by medals and awards recognizing who is a hero, who is just meeting job expectations. Every job people take has risk vs. compensation calculations. Some firefighters were heroes on 9/11, most weren't. Some civilians in the WTC did heroic things, like the operating engineers and people that did other extraordinary things.

Morpheus - and speaking of true heroes that day , no one had greater claim to it than Rick Rescorla of Morgan Stanley, save possibly a few passengers on Flight 93, if the stories the public has been given are true.


Posted by: Cedarford at May 26, 2005 01:56 PM (HoSBk)

13 Yeah, but don't forget Rick Rescorla.

Rescorla [speaking to a friend] on the phone: "Pack a bag and get up here," he said. "You can be my consultant again." He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

"What'd you say?" Hill asked.

"I said, 'Piss off, you son of a bitch,' " Rescorla replied. "Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it's going to take the whole building with it. I'm getting my people the fuck out of here."

Posted by: Phil Smith at May 26, 2005 01:58 PM (JXpI9)

14 My roommate's dad did the same thing.

Was there in '93, headed down from the 90th or so floor in the south tower via the stairwell after the first plane hit the north tower. But the building announced that they should return to their offices.

He said "f*ck that" and led a bunch of people down.

Everyone on his floor who listened to management and stayed put perished.

Posted by: Sean at May 26, 2005 02:48 PM (cl3Om)

15 Does anyone here know of a relatively authoritive and published document that accounts for all of the people in the towers that morning?

I have heard that 26,000 got out and 20,000 hadn't gotten there yet, but with no source reference.

This does agree with the general estimate of a work-day population of ± 50,000.

Thanks.

Posted by: Mr.Kurtz at May 26, 2005 03:05 PM (wciaI)

16 Another aspect, and one some might find trivial, but how in the hell is anyone supposed to be able to run for her life wearing high heels?
I remember reading about the women who had to discard their heels running barefoot through the broken glass. Men had to stop to help them, so it slowed everyone down.
Nothing to be done about it, of course, but now on those infrequent occasions that I strap on some great looking shoes, it occurs to me that if i have to run for my life, I'll have to do it barefoot.

Posted by: Stace at May 26, 2005 03:33 PM (/xNZg)

17 Easy Spirit ?

Posted by: Mr.Kurtz at May 26, 2005 03:56 PM (wciaI)

18 Anything but Manolos.
And from what I understand, if those planes had hit an hour later, our casualties would have been much higher.

Posted by: Stace at May 26, 2005 04:41 PM (/xNZg)

19 The conductors of the Path trains deserve a big "atta boy/girl" too. They stopped running trains to the Path station under the WTC at the first sign of trouble and recalled other trains in transit there.
I don't want to think of what would have happened if they hadn't taken the initiative.

Posted by: vivi at May 26, 2005 05:30 PM (syZA+)

20 Stace,

Try men's shoes! They work for me!

Posted by: Lipstick Dynamite at May 26, 2005 05:43 PM (1f7Hp)

21 Cedarford - You say "The people in the WTC self-evacuated despite the firefighter's efforts to stop their getting out, that people who were below where the planes hit generally lived, those above generally died."

That's a load of crap. Firemen are trained to get people out of burning buidings, and, according to thousands of survivor stories, that's exactly what they did. Every report I've heard or read from survivors of the 9/11 attacks states clearly that the firefighters helped people get out of the building.

Every single one of them disputes what you say.

We're supposed to believe your random friend-of-a-friend source? Cuz you say so and you're such an authority on heroism and rescue operations, right?

2 survivor stories:

"Sometime around the 30th or 40th floor, we passed the first firefighters coming up the stairs. They reassured people that we were safe and that we would all get out fine. By this point, they were already absolutely breathless, but still pushing upward, slowly and unyieldingly, one step at a time. I could only imagine how tired they were, carrying their axes, hoses and heavy outfits and climbing up all those stairs. Young men started offering the firemen to carry up their gear for a few flights, but they all refused. EACH and EVERY ONE of them. As I relive this moment over and over in my mind, I can't help but think that these courageous firemen already knew in their minds that they would not make it out of the building alive and that they didn't not want to endanger any more civilians and prevent one less person from making it to safety on the ground."

"While we were going down there were hundreds of firemen and policemen going up to rescue people trapped. These brave men will never make it to their homes. So they escorted us thru the exit of World Trade 2 and I had just reached the revolving door of the building that I heard a loud explosion and the whole building collapsed."

You say "Every job people take has risk vs. compensation calculations"

We don't admire firefighters, soldiers and policemen because they're willing to risk their lives. We admire them because they're willing to risk their lives while taking responsibility for ours. The willingness to accept that kind of life-or-death responsibility on a daily basis is what makes those jobs so difficult. The people in the buildings weren't helpless victims at all. People like Rick Rescorla, the passengers on Flight 93 and the people in New York who gave first aid help, water and shelter were all an example for us. But we civilians don't have to accept that risk and responsibility on a daily basis. It's not our job. That's the difference.





Posted by: mary at May 27, 2005 04:54 AM (28mPO)

22 Mary,
Excellent post.

Posted by: lauraw at May 27, 2005 05:22 AM (bU5ES)

23 Thanks, lauraw.

Posted by: mary at May 27, 2005 06:10 AM (28mPO)

24 mary,

FWIW, Cedarford is a moron/troll and anything he says should be discounted out of hand. Good post.

P.S. Lauraw, I've been trying. Really.

Posted by: BrewFan at May 27, 2005 06:21 AM (Byr3j)

25 I know it.
You guys have been awesome.
This particular thread has a troll turd on it so huge that I knew SOMEBODY had to respond.
I think Mary showed wonderful restraint.

You wouldn't have used such non-inflammatory language Brewfan, LOL

Posted by: lauraw at May 27, 2005 06:48 AM (bU5ES)

26 Spewfan - I'm afraid you fit the classic definition of a troll more than I. You contribute little. You normally limit yourself to attacking posters you disagree with, but even then, you don't back it up with facts.

Mary -

So if I get this right, you would wait in a burning building until someone in authority (namely wearing a uniform and in a government job) told you that you had their permission to leave???

The facts are that few in the floors above the plane impact zone survived, none in one building, and almost all in the floors below managed to make it to safety, except the WTC employees who stayed - elevator engineers. security personnel - and the firefighter groups who didn't evacuate when the cops did.

The firefighters never made it to the fires. Or accomplished a single rescue of those trapped above the plane impact zones. They wanted to, but never got that high up...

After the 1993 bombing, each tenent in the WTC was required to have an evacuation protocol. Which conflicted with instructions of the Port Authority 9/11 and the arriving firefighters....which were telling tenents to "Remain where you are until the authorities can handle the situation. Stay put!"

What saved many people, as Wired magazine and various books and articles have stated, was people following their own evacuation plans and disregarding the commands of 9/11 dispatchers and the firefighters.

Mary writes: We don't admire firefighters, soldiers and policemen because they're willing to risk their lives. We admire them because they're willing to risk their lives while taking responsibility for ours. The willingness to accept that kind of life-or-death responsibility on a daily basis is what makes those jobs so difficult.

The WTC was well=stocked with people that had been heroes many times over in past lives, like Rick Rescorla and many of the stockbrokers and guards that had done military stints before. And we know that many civilians - most unknown and not in uniform - met their end bravely, thinking of or helping others.

There are jobs of high risk that are absolutely essential to our society working - like oil rig workers where people have life or death responsibilities and more risk than any cop faces on a daily basis. Heroes? No, just folks like cops who weighed their own risk-reward calculation when taking the job. But if the roustabout was also a volunteer firefighter vs. a paid full time one....does that uniform make him a hero?

Pilots, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, certified furnace repairmen, electricians all "help us" and have "life and death" responsibilities. All heroes? All have relatively low risk jobs compared to miners and farmers and commercial truck drivers that are doing the essential work to feed us and give us energy and get it to us. Heroes?

I think we have gone overboard by terming various government employees collective, automatic heroes by their job title. And it keeps spreading. If all cops are heroes, then surely all sewer workers, in a dirty, dangerous, essential job are also heroes. And we also have a growing tendency to call all those in a job we admire, "heroes" - teachers, nurses, aides to the retarded...

Hero by job title??

The military safeguards who they call heroes. Within the ranks....you are not all considered heroes because you wear a uniform. You become one of a limited number of heroes accepted by your peers as such through rare, extraordinary deed...

Posted by: Cedarford at May 27, 2005 08:05 AM (6krEN)

27 mary,

I forgot to add that in addition to being a moron and a troll, cedarford is a liar too. I'm not sure how I forgot to add that as its one of his most endearing qualities.

Posted by: BrewFan at May 27, 2005 08:36 AM (Byr3j)

28 Only the dumbest of dumbasses would claim that cops and firemen operate at the same level of risk as sewer workers and aides to the retarded.

Mary, great post.

Posted by: Dogstar at May 27, 2005 08:37 AM (KgeNY)

29 So if I get this right, you would wait in a burning building until someone in authority (namely wearing a uniform and in a government job) told you that you had their permission to leave???

No, you don't get that right. You get a lot of things wrong. Of course I would leave a burning building.

You misread the Wired Article too. Where does it say that firemen prevented people from leaving a burning building?

My issue was with your friend of a friend story, which stated that firemen worked to stop people from getting out. You said:

"The people in the WTC self-evacuated despite the firefighter's efforts to stop their getting out..

In your own words, the firefighters were making an effort to stop people from getting out. Can you give us one reason why the firefighters were making an effort to stop people from getting out of a burning building?

Can you give us one reason why anyone should believe another word you say?

I didn't say that all firemen or policemen were heroes. I said that their willingness to accept responsibility for others' lives was admirable. They certainly don't deserve to have some apparent troll bad mouthing them in some misguided effort to build up his own ego.

Posted by: mary at May 27, 2005 10:41 AM (28mPO)

30 To Mary, Spewfan, Right to Lifer Dogbreath - in my mind, you're the trolls that avoid the truth.

The sad facts are that firefighters were telling tenants to "Stay put", "Await instructions from authorities", "Clear the stairwells for rescuers".

All in contravention to existing evacuation plans that companies had drilled on.

Those that listened to their companies and evacuated lived, those that listened to some firefighters died.

That's a load of crap. Firemen are trained to get people out of burning buidings, and, according to thousands of survivor stories, that's exactly what they did.

Load of crap back to you, Mary.

That is what the Wired article discusses. Those that defied uniformed authority figures had a higher chance of living. Those that put their lives in the hands of Gov't authorities were at higher risk for doing so. "Thousands" never credited Giuliani's annointed heroes.,,,, but hundreds said they were an impediment to reaching safety...

I also admire folks who put their lives on the line for others, like the millions in WWI who died charging machine guns. But we also owe it to them to learn from brave, but stupid mistakes. And we did.

And we also have to learn from the firefighter clusterfuck that happened at the WTC on 9/11 and not simply laud them as heroes, anymore than we did with the WWI trench charges... There is a duty to learn and not screw up response to another major attack...

Posted by: Cedarford at May 27, 2005 02:21 PM (6krEN)

31 Wow, that's odd. The Wired article doesn't say anything about firefighters impeding the evacuation of the tower occupants.

However, according to our fact-challenged butthead, "That is what the Wired article discusses."

Once again, Cedardrool manages to fire up his Fact Creator 9000 and produce citations out of thin air.

Damn, I wish I could bend reality as well as you, dude.

Posted by: Dogstar at May 27, 2005 03:42 PM (KgeNY)

32 Cedarford - That is what the Wired article discusses. Those that defied uniformed authority figures had a higher chance of living.


Dogstar, Brewfan and Lauraw were right. You are a troll (albeit one with a fairly large vocabulary - if you had reasonable reading skills, you could accomplish a lot)


As everyone has pointed out, the Wired article says nothing of the sort. The firemen didn't prevent people from leaving the building.


And no, firemen aren't 'uniformed authority figures' Their job is to help people. The fact that you see them as authority figures, and the fact that you resent the attention that they've gotten says more about you than about them.

Posted by: mary at May 27, 2005 06:09 PM (28mPO)

33 gobbelsford, if you want to truely find out if you are really a troll, ask yourself this question.

If Rick's last name had been libowitz, would you still consider him a hero?

cough...nazi....cough

(yeah,yeah, Godwin...whatever)

Son of America

Posted by: son of america at June 01, 2005 08:55 AM (Tr2b6)

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