ELYRIA — Eleven first responders on the New York Fire Department’s Rescue 5 truck went to the scene of the burning World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. None of them returned.
In total, 343 firefighters and paramedics were killed that day.
Five FDNY rescue trucks were sent to rescue those trapped in the buildings. Two of the trucks were completely destroyed as the Twin Towers collapsed on them, and Rig 3 was scrapped at a junkyard.
Only two fire trucks remained in working condition. Scott Vaughn has them now.
Vaughn, a firefighter from Chicago, knows how important it is to keep the memory of 9/11 alive. He was on duty during the attacks on the World Trade Center and remembers watching the events unfold with fellow firefighters.
“Once we realized what was going on, we just stayed glued to the TV; we just watched TV all day long,” he said. “We knew exactly what had happened. … We knew that the first responders were still in there and they were still working to get people out.”
Now Vaughn tours the country with Rescue 5 to keep alive the memory of the firefighters lost that day. He is a volunteer coordinator for the Remembrance Rescue Project, a nonprofit organization created by firefighters to restore, preserve and share the rescue trucks with others and educate the younger children about Sept. 11, 2001.
The crew put more than $25,000 into each vehicle, although many of the parts and repairs were donated. The names of 13 firefighters killed on 9/11 are listed on the vehicle. Eleven firefighters responded on Rescue 5. Two were on another vehicle.
Vaughn said most people don’t remember the anniversary of Sept. 11 until the day gets closer. With the Remembrance Rescue Project, volunteers spread awareness throughout the year.
“When we bring a rig like this to Ohio at the end of September, people actually see it and touch it,” he said. “To them, it’s September 11 all over again.”
On Friday, Vaughn and his crew visited Elyria High School. The Remembrance Rescue Project was invited to a preparedness seminar for firefighters and rescue personnel that will be held today in the performing arts center of the school.
Elyria High School students had the opportunity to view the rescue truck and ask Vaughn questions.
Associate principal Shane Newark said the opportunity was a learning experience for students, who were generally young when the attack on the World Trade Center occurred.
“With the age of the kids, a lot of them don’t know the full details of that day, and that’s such a historical event in our country, that I think that it’s important that kids continue to learn about it and what happened on that day,” he said.
Vaughn’s group also collects money for the surviving children of firefighters who were killed in the line of duty. Last summer, they raised $3,000 to help families in need.
Vaughn plans to continue touring with Rescue 5, especially with fire prevention month in October.
“We’ll keep driving it around the country until we can’t drive it anymore,” he said.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or email@example.com.