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Area law enforcement recalls 9/11

MORGANTOWN—Westover’s Deputy Chief Scott Carl and his wife had just woken up to care for their newborn daughter when they turned on the television and first heard about the attacks occurring at the World Trade Center.

At the time, Carl was working for the Morgantown Police Department. At first, he and his wife thought it was just a terrible accident. It wasn’t until the second plane hit that Carl knew something more was happening.

“First thing I immediately thought of, because I’m a veteran— I’m a Coast Guard veteran—is that one, I may be recalled to the Coast Guard,” he said, “or two, I probably better start getting dressed because if something’s going on in the country and we are under some sort of enemy attack, your first line of defense, obviously, is your police officers.”

By the time Granville Fire Chief Butch Renner had woken up from working the night shift, the tragedy had already occurred. Like many others, as soon as he watched coverage of the event on television, he couldn’t comprehend what had happened.

“I got up to turn the TV on, it was just— I didn’t believe it,” he said. “It was unreal.”

Unsure of how the events would progress, Carl’s mind went straight to what it could mean for his family.

“I was more scared for my wife and daughter, especially having a newborn baby,” he said. “When something like that happens, the immediate thing I thought about was my daughter’s future.”

Also concerned for her children, Roxanna Gibson, Mon County EMS paramedic and logistics coordinator, said she tried her best to keep her children from seeing what was on the news at the time.

“I didn’t want them to be in the middle of all that, because I knew it upset me,” she said. “I didn’t want them to be scared.”

Like Carl, Morgantown Communications Director Andrew Stacy was a veteran who questioned whether he would be deployed again when he initially heard about the attacks.

Stacy was serving in the U.S. Navy and was on his way home from an eight month deployment to the Persian Gulf when the attacks occurred. He was responsible for navigation on his ship and was on a rotating 12-hour schedule. While sleeping in between shifts, his shipmate woke him up to share the news.

“There was all kinds of rumors of ‘oh, we’re gonna have to go back to back to the Persian Gulf,’ ” he said. “There was just a lot of rumors going around and nobody, I think, really knew exactly what was going on.”

Although not deployed right away, about a year passed before Stacy was deployed back to the Persian Gulf for Operation Enduring Freedom, also known as the Global War on Terrorism.

The days and weeks following 9/11, many law enforcement agencies and first responders saw a shift in their field.

For Carl, he said police departments saw a change in the way information is shared with other agencies.

“If we wanted to communicate with other departments we would actually go through our dispatch,” he said. “Well, then the communication systems immediately started changing to where we could all just change channels and talk with each other.”

Morgantown Police Officer Steve Bennett has also noticed a shift in the level of cautiousness officer have to take when it comes to investigating suspicious activity.

“We’re always checking things out and and being more vigilant,” he said.

Lee Fuell, part-time paramedic for Mon County EMS, was serving in the Air Force during the time of the attack. Post-9/11, he found a shift in focus toward addressing systematic flaws, including analyzing how events like this could be prevented.

The ability to analyze what happened on 9/11 and use it to prevent future incidents is the biggest reason why Fuell said it is important to continue learning and talking about 9/11.

“The most important thing to talk about, in my opinion, is why we weren’t able to prevent the attacks from happening, what we should learn from that analysis and how we actually get better at implementing a lot of the recommendations that came out of the after-action analysis,” he said.

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