Terror From the Sky
by Judith Freudenthal
Sept. 11, 2001
New York City, Tuesday morning about 8:30 am.
Natalie Lambert was meeting a friend for breakfast near the World Trade Towers. Natalie was in town for a Coroner's convention and her lectures didn't start until around eleven that morning. Steph Parker worked in the building next to the Towers and this was the most convenient place for them to meet.
She met Steph outside the restaurant and they entered. They were quickly seated and ordered. While they ate they caught up on what the other had been up to during the last year. Their conversation, and breakfast was interrupted when they heard a loud sound and went to the window to look. They couldn't believe what they saw.
"Put on the television," Steph said as she approached the nearest waiter. "Something just hit the North Tower."
The waiter rushed over the television and turned it on. Steph and Natalie moved their seat closer to the bar so they could catch the news report.
They continued eating and talked until the news coverage started about five minutes later. Both ladies were surprised, as was everyone else who were in visual or auditory range of the television set.
Natalie and Steph watched, not wanting to take their attention from the screen. Steph didn't want to go out into the street just yet. They were just finishing their meal when there was another large explosion. They ran to the window again, and could not believe their eyes. There was a fireball in the South Tower. It had not even been twenty minutes since the first explosion.
No one wanted to leave, partially because they were glued to the news coverage and partially because they felt safer inside the restaurant. No one could believe what they were seeing.
Natalie and Steph sat there sipping at their coffee as they watched the unbelievable unfold before their very eyes.
About half an hour later they heard even more shocking news. Another plane had crashed, this one into the Pentagon.
Some people entered the restaurant covered with gray ash. They were immediately seated and given a towel to brush themselves off with and then a glass of water.
"Is anyone hurt?" Natalie asked.
"I'm fine," was said by all the new arrivals as they dusted themselves off and drank down the water, partially to clean the dust out of their throats.
About fifteen minutes later Natalie and Steph were about to leave when there was a huge plume of smoke, dust, and debris, causing them to go back into the restaurant and let it settle some before trying again.
A little more than twenty minutes later Natalie and Steph decided that there probably wouldn't be a good time for several hours and things might get even worse so they decided to go ahead and leave. When Natalie and Steph walked out of the restaurant they noticed the smoke everywhere, the ash falling as if a volcano had just erupted and the people running away from the World Trade Center. They took a closer look and could not believe what they saw. They watched as the second tower fell, the hazy air made it difficult to see.
"Oh My God!" Natalie cried out in shock.
"Oh My God!" Steph called out equally stunned.
They were both stunned speechless and headed towards the disaster to see if they could be of help but were turned away, saying that no one, not even the emergency personnel were allowed there.
Natalie and Steph started coughing from all the debris in the air. So much it looked like it was a dirty snow blizzard. They used the fronts of their jackets to help shield them from breathing all of that in.
Toronto, approximately the same time.
Nick and Schanke were in the precinct's bullpen. One of the uniformed officers had a small television set on his desk. He was watching the local news when they broke in with news of the plane crashes. The officer turned up the volume and turned the set so that everyone could see it. Activity in the precinct stopped as everyone was fixated on the action.
Nick was horrified. Schanke noticed this and wondered why.
"Nick, you okay?"
"Nat's there," Nick said worried. He looked as if someone had punched him in the stomach.
"She'll be fine, partner." Schanke hoped he was right. Nick would be a basket case if anything happened to Natalie. He knew Nick was more worried about her than she was.
At the Pentagon, Tuesday morning about 9:40 am.
Dana Scully and Fox Mulder showed their FBI badges and were allowed access to the Pentagon. They clipped on their badges and headed for their destination. They were here investigating a case and needed information from one of the offices in the E ring.
The had just about reached their destination when the floor shook like an earthquake.
"What the hell?" Scully said.
Mulder's look echoed her statement.
They continued on their way, stopping someone coming from the other direction. They smelled jet fuel and knew something was very wrong.
"What happened?" Scully asked.
"We're not sure yet."
"I'm Agent Scully and he's Agent Mulder with the FBI. I'm also a medical doctor if you need any help."
"We might. Stay here and I'll see if you're needed at the moment." The Army officer said.
"We should go to our car and get our FBI jackets," Mulder said.
"Okay." The officer said.
Mulder and Scully hurried out to their car. When they were outside the jet fuel and smell of fire caught their attention. Both were stunned when they saw the huge burning hole in the building.
"Oh My God!" They both said and ran for their car, which was a fair distance away.
Mulder unlocked the trunk and they grabbed their FBI jackets and she grabbed her black medical bag. She knew it wouldn't be able to handle that much trauma, but it was a start. Mulder locked the trunk and they slipped into their jackets as they turned back to face the building.
They stared stunned at the destruction before them. They had seen a lot of horrific things, and this was not the first building they been around when it had blown up, but it still got to them. They did hope it was the last.
Back in New York City. . .
Natalie Lambert and her friend were heading out of the danger zone, knowing that they wouldn't be able to help anyone if they too got hurt.
Both women were coated with the gray ash. Natalie tried to brush it out of her hair and off of her face, at least what was visible. They were still using their shirts as dust filters. She knew it would just get dusty again, but the more she brushed out of it, the less there would be to get into her eyes, or her lungs.
They were now several blocks from where they had been and saw another rescue crew.
"I'm a medical doctor, need any help?"
"Not yet. But you might find these useful." The firefighter said as he handed them each a paper filter mask. "It won't keep it all out but it will help."
"Thanks." Natalie quickly brushed herself off again before slipping the mask on and making sure the fit was tight.
"Thanks." Steph also brushed herself off before slipping on her mask.
Natalie and Steph kept walking, hoping that they could be of use somewhere. They noticed all the papers, some singed, along with the debris and ash on the ground, quite thick in areas. The ash was raining down so heavily it looked like a dirty blizzard.
In Toronto. . .
Cohen came out of her office.
"I know you want to watch this, but you have to get your work done. There is a city to protect."
All the officers nodded. Cohen turned on the overhead television so that everyone could see it as they went about their business.
Nick returned to his desk and tried to call Natalie's cell phone. He was frustrated when he got no response. It also increased his worry.
"Nick, the lines are probably either overloaded or down. Look at all the people on their cell phones. You have to know that everyone in that area is trying to get word out that they're okay, or those who have someone they care about there are trying to call and check on them."
"I know. I just wish I knew."
"I'm worried about her too. She's a big girl and can take care of herself," Schanke said.
"I know. But this is different."
In New York City. . .
Natalie and Steph had been walking for quite a while now and reached a medical facility.
"We're only taking the most badly injured."
"I'm not a patient. I'm a M.D." Natalie flashed her identification.
"We have enough doctors right now. Thank you, Dr. Lambert."
"I was just there. You're going to be needing as many doctors as possible, soon."
"You're not certified here."
"I did my forensics training at the University of Virginia."
"Why don't you go help at the triage center. They'll need help before we will," the doctor said.
"Okay. Where's the nearest one."
"Go back the way you came and ask someone. They were moving the last I heard."
"Can I get a few supplies to help anyone I run across?" Natalie asked.
"Sure. I can't give you much."
The nurse packed up a small first aid kit mostly filled with bandages and tape and handed it to Natalie.
Natalie and Steph left. They headed back the way they'd come. Stopping and helping anyone who needed it along the way.
In Toronto . . .
"Nick, look up," an officer shouted.
Nick looked up and recognized the gray soot covered body on the screen, bandaging some man's forehead. Nick breathed a sigh of relief, as did Schanke.
"We should've realized she'd be trying to help everyone she could," Schanke said with a chuckle.
Nick watched the screen as long as Natalie's picture was on it. When they moved onto another shot he picked up the phone.
"Coroner's Office," Grace said.
"It's Nick. She's safe. I just saw her on tv. She was bandaging someone's head."
"Thank God! I was so worried about her." Grace could feel the tension leaving her body, and it came through clearly in her voice.
"I know. That's why I called."
"Did they talk to her?"
"No. The camera was showing the devastation and happened to catch her in the frame. She's covered in that gray ash that's everywhere. But the important thing is she's okay."
"I'm so glad to hear that. I guess we shouldn't expect her home as long as they need help down there."
"I think you're right."
In Washington, D.C. . . .
Mulder and Scully reentered the Pentagon after showing proper identification. They were escorted to the briefing area. They, along with the Pentagon employees were briefed on the current situation.
"Agent Scully, I understand that you're a medical doctor?"
"We would appreciate your help with some of the wounded."
"Lead me to them."
Scully and one of the military officers left. Mulder stayed behind to see how he could be helpful.
As soon as Scully entered the area they were using to triage the wounded she immediately approached the person in charge.
"I'm Agent Scully. I've been told you can use my medical skills." She flashed him her medical identification.
"Yes. Pick anyone."
Scully examined those awaiting treatment and saw no truly critical injuries, but knew that would not last. She figured that most of those injured had been around the blast area. She decided to start with some of those that were the heavier injured of the group, but what would not be considered life threatening.
Back in New York City . . .
Natalie was helping out in the triage. Steph was helping out as well. Natalie was tending to some of the medium serious injures as that's where she was assigned to work.
After about an hour a new batch of help came.
"Dr. Lambert, thank you for your help, but we can handle it from here."
"Are you sure? There will be more wounded coming in."
Natalie left, heading out to see if she could find somewhere that needed her help. She had to do something.
As she walked down a different street than before she checked on anyone who seemed to be injured. She didn't have any bandages to work with but could at least check them out and reassure them that they didn't seem seriously injured.
She couldn't believe the devastation and destruction she was seeing. The ground was covered with soot and papers from the World Trade Towers. The air was still thick with both smoke and the ash from the explosions and building collapses. She was grateful for her thin filter mask as it did filter out most of the stuff that would clog up her lungs otherwise.
It was breezy and she felt something sting her forehead, and her hand. She looked down at her hand and saw a mild scratch. She was surprised that nothing had hit her before this. She reached up and touched her forehead then looked at her fingers, seeing some blood on it. She hoped it wasn't too deep and knew there wasn't much she could do until she reached another triage station or a hospital.
She reached a hospital and entered.
"Wait over there, we'll get to you."
"I'm a medical doctor. I thought you might need a hand."
"We sure do. Do you have any proof?"
Natalie showed her identification. "I trained in Forensics at the University of Virginia." Natalie also showed her forensic pathology identification in case they needed someone with surgical skills.
"I just need you to fill out a couple forms and then you might want to change your clothes. And you can take care of that gash while you're at it. Why don't you hold this on it for right now?" The nurse said as she handed Natalie a gauze pad.
Natalie took the gauze pad and held it to the gash to stop the bleeding.
A nurse handed Natalie a few forms to fill out, mostly they stated that she was qualified to practice medicine, and other such legal stuff. The nurse then gave her a pair of scrubs.
Natalie removed the gauze pad from the wound, hoping it had stopped bleeding.
"It doesn't look too deep. I don't think it needs sutures." She saw Natalie's relief and understood. "I'll lock your valuables with everyone else's if you wish."
"Thanks," Natalie handed over her wallet and watched the nurse lock it with a large stash of purses and other bags. "I'm glad."
The nurse took Natalie's picture with a Polaroid camera.
Natalie took the scrubs and headed for the locker room. She closed her eyes and brushed herself off as well as she could, knowing the more of the ash she got off the better it would be for everyone. There would be less stuff to fall into her eyes, choke her, or more importantly, contaminate the wounds of those she'd be treating. Once she figured she was as clean as she'd get without a shower, she slipped into the scrubs. She hung her clothes in the first empty locker she found.
She tapped her sneakers on the floor trying to get as much of the ash out of them as she could before brushing off her socks and sticking her feet back in the shoes. She was extremely grateful she had worn them rather than her flats or low heels. Especially now that she'd be on her feet for hours. She didn't even want to think about how many hours it could be.
She headed out to the emergency area and grabbed a couple of alcohol pads, a couple of gauze pads and a couple plastic bandages. She cleaned the scratch on her hand and put a plastic bandage over it to protect herself. She found the nearest mirror and looked at the gash on her forehead and realized it wasn't too bad. She quickly washed off her face in the sink and dried it, feeling much better. She thoroughly cleaned the gash with the alcohol, biting her lower lip as it stung like crazy. She didn't want to risk infection. She held another gauze pad over it for a minute or so until it stopped bleeding again and put a plastic bandage over it to keep out the dirt and germs she'd be exposed to as she treated the wounded.
The nurse from before found her and handed her a temporary ID badge, using the photo she'd taken earlier. This way there would be no questions about her being there.
The nurse escorted Natalie over to the doctor in charge.
"Dr. Natalie Lambert, meet Dr. Matt Walker. Dr. Lambert offered her help."
"Hi. Thanks for lending a hand. Karen will show you which patients need help the most."
"I couldn't not help."
Karen escorted Natalie over to the first patient needing help.
"Thanks, Karen." Natalie said before Karen returned to her own duties.
Natalie noticed that the victim before her was a real mess and she knew she had her work cut out for her. She slipped on her latex gloves and began examining her unconscious bleeding patient.