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The following article is a first hand account from Norbert Kubilus, President of Coleman University.
Like many Americans, I can remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. We had moved to Del Mar a year earlier from Bucks County Pennsylvania. My ringing phone woke me at 6:00 am, well ahead of my alarm. I could not believe the voice on the other end of the line when I answered it telling me “put on your TV, they are flying planes into the World Trade Center.”
It took a few moments for me to react to this unbelievable statement as I reached for the TV remote. The images on the screen were surreal. I knew the Twin Towers very well. I watched them being built as a child. My wife had an office on the 71st floor of the South Tower before we moved west. And I had prepared the disaster response plan for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey over a decade earlier. Yes, I knew these buildings.
As the day unfolded, it became more and more personal. Our neighbors in Del Mar were two flight attendants. They came over to watch the TV coverage with us over coffee and breakfast … and when they received an ominous phone call. Three of their friends were on one of the planes flown into WTC. When the hijacked plane was reported near Pittsburgh PA, I could only hope that my daughter was safe in class or her room at the University of Pittsburgh. She called that afternoon relating the panic felt on campus. Finally, we started to hear from family, friends and colleagues who were not at WTC that morning for various reasons … and from two who missed being on the doomed flights because of a change in meeting plans.
The saddest part of the day was watching the Twin Towers collapse on themselves. Old friends were collapsing from the fatal blows. Both towers were designed and built to survive a hit by an airliner on final approach to a New York City airport … but not direct planned impact by a plane fully fueled and flown at cruising speed. I knew that the first responders in these buildings were doomed.
Command and Control centers for fighting fires in high rise buildings are on the ground floor. WTC was no exception. That meant that the fire command staff for a major disaster such as this one would be gathered there making tactical decisions and issuing commands to firefighters throughout the buildings. Unfortunately, there was a communications breakdown in the towers. More sadly, the towers crashed down right on the fire command staff.
We learned many lessons with 9-11, one of which was the ultimate consequence of refusing to change because “We’ve always done it that way.” Is it time to make a change in your life … your career? It is never too late to turn your Dreams into Reality.
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