Home > News & Advice > Culture & History > September 11 First Responders

September 11 First Responders

by Legacy Staff

Paramedics, firefighters and police were among the first to respond to the emergency situation created by terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. Still others, including Red Cross volunteers, did what they could to help in the aftermath.

Several 9/11 heroes died this year. Here are a few whose heroic efforts were recounted in their obituaries.

In 1982 Mary Patricia “Pat” Lind, of Oakland, New Jersey, became one of the first paramedics at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Nearly two decades later, she was one of the first to heed the call for help:

“On September 11, 2001, as thousands fled Manhattan, she and her partner on Valley’s MICU responded to the World Trade Center, before being stationed at the triage and treatment area at the South Street Seaport.”


Lind died July 24, 2011, at age 70.

Edwin Ortiz, of New Hempstead, New York, served 20 years in the New York City Police Department before retiring from the NYPD’s 40th Precinct Detectives Squad. Among his other accomplishments, “He will be remembered for his search and rescue efforts following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America.”

A 20-year veteran of the Newark (N.J.) Fire Department, Nelson Perez “led hundreds of investigations involving fire, explosive, environmental, internal affairs, and candidate investigations.” He also “served with the Essex County Prosecutor’s office arson task force” and “played a key role in revamping the Newark Fire Department’s firefighter application process.”

“Nelson’s commitment to serve resounded throughout the region” as evidenced by his role as “an emergency responder during the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center,” where he spent several weeks assisting with the search for victims.

“Nelson’s exceptional drive and passion for life was seen by all who knew him.”

John Wycliffe Riley, of Gilmer, Texas, attended nursing school, served as a dental assistant in the Air Force, and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. A Red Cross volunteer who “spent many hours operating an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV),” he “assisted with American Red Cross relief efforts in New York City following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”

After retiring from the New York City Fire Department, John O’Neill moved to Edisto Island, South Carolina, where he enjoyed rescuing dogs and fly fishing. On Sept. 11, 2001, “his fire company was one of the initial responders to the tragedy at the World Trade Center,” and following that, “John spent an extensive period of time in the rescue and clean up operations at that site.” O’Neill died Feb. 14, 2011.

“While serving as Chief of Police in Medford Lakes, NJ,” FBI academy graduate Robert L. “Bob” Scott Sr. “was one of the first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.” Scott died April 22, 2011, in Estero, Florida. He was 58.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.

More Stories