Documentary

Still Riding

Rescue Company New York City

First Aired On: TLC and Discovery New York Times

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

 

                I have a friend and co-worker who is a buff Firemen all know what a buff is Ė that the guy or girl who goes to every fire they can, watching as their heroes take down the blaze and rescue lives.  Every job is a thrill and they secretly hope that if they canít become a firefighter, a son or a daughter will.  Iím not a buff, but ever since visiting Fire Squad 61 in the Bronx and climbing up into the cab of one of the trucks at my volunteer firefighter grandpaís station when I was a kid, I have the utmost respect for the job and what these folks go through every day.

                September 11, 2001 meant a lot to my co-worker and I.  We lived here Ė this was our city under attack and my co-worker knew some of the guys running to this disaster personally.  We were in separate places watching, but I know the feelings were quite the same Ė that dread of realizing what the city had just lost when those towers went down.  For folks like us, the pain of what took place that day doesnít go away.  We still talk about where we were on the day, what we were doing when we found out.  We look at the faces of the younger crew and realize they will never realize what it was really like to live in that moment.

                Thatís why itís important to bring them up to speed and there is no better way than to let the firemen who responded to the World Trade Center that day speak for themselves.  Still Riding: Rescue Company New York City is a documentary released on the first anniversary of the tragic terror attacks that tells the story of two of the valiant NYFD Fire Rescue Squads that responded on that day.  Tom Downey, producer of this documentary, rode with Rescue 1 and 2 a year before the events of 9/11.  He got to meet and ride with some of the very men who perished on that day, so it is only natural that he be the one to tell us the story of the brave men of the rescue squad.

                At approximately 45 minutes in length, Still Riding brings us into the firehouse lives of Rescue 1 and 2, introducing us to their crew members and making us a part of the team as we ride along on some very dangerous calls.  We witness as Lt Dennis Mojica and his team help rescue window washers trapped stories above ground at a high-rise just months before 9/11.  We witness Kevin O'Rourke trying to reach the attic in a wood frame house fire as he falls through the floor and is rescued by his own team.  We listen to Lincoln Quappe as he talks about his fellow rescue team members and the dangers of getting lost while in a blaze. 

                We see the men that Rescue 1 and 2 lost and hear how they feel about the job in their own words.  We get to see them in action before the events of 9/11.  About half-way through the documentary, we listen to the surviving members and their narration of events of that day.  We witness the footage of the towers burningÖof them falling.  We see what they would have seen as they rounded the corner on West Street that day.  We hear the emotional strain of revisiting that day in their voices, the loss of the brothers who served with them on that day and we feel it Ė never to the same extent as they do, but we feel it nonetheless.

                To this day, I have some trouble watching documentaries about 9/11.  Less than a handful of years prior to the event, I worked down thereÖmere blocks away and I have never revisited the area afterwards.  After seeing pictures and film footage during the events and in the days afterward Ė a scene straight out of a war zone, I could barely recognize the streets I walked down every day coming to and from work.  Itís hard watching those documentaries, but itís necessary.  Itís a piece of history that must be remembered with the same intensity as if it happened yesterday, because we should never forget what happened.  We should never forget the men and women who perished that day.  We should never forget those who were willing to run towards the tragedy and lay down their lives in an effort to save as many as they could.  These people were always heroes, but on that day, they made the ultimate sacrifice to save others.

Itís one of the reasons that there is a Still Riding chart at the rescue company listing those members of the squad who were never recovered.  In the minds of the firemen on that job, these folks are still riding with them, looking over their shoulders and reminding them not just of what they lost, but of why they continue to do what they do. 

                I strongly recommend Still Riding to all those who lived through these tragic events, but even more so for the younger generation for who this is just a cloudy memory or something they just heard about, but hadnít even been born yet to have experienced it.  Itís important to remember these men Ė the men who ran towards danger so that others could live.

 

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