‘We had to try to rescue them’: Marking 9/11’s solemn 20th anniversary

Since 2002, Safe Community program has enhanced the capabilities of emergency response organizations

It was a day that shook the world.

It was also a day that reminded us what heroes are made of.

This September 11 marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93.

And of the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day, 412 of them were emergency workers from New York City’s five boroughs who responded to the WTC’s twin towers in Manhattan.

The number included 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and eight paramedics who answered the cry for help, showing unimaginable courage in the face of an unspeakable calamity. Hundreds of other first responders have died or fallen ill after being exposed to toxic dust and other debris on the day of the 9/11 attacks.

A division chief for the New York City Fire Department would later remark: “We had a very strong sense we would lose firefighters and that we were in deep trouble. But we had estimates of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians, and we had to try to rescue them.”

Among many other outcomes, the 9/11 attacks sparked conversations about private funding for emergency response organizations across America. In 2002, Enbridge joined other corporations in showing support for first responders by establishing the 9-1-1 Fund.

The program, expanded to Canada in 2009, is now known as the Safe Community First Responder Program. And since its inception, the program has invested more than $14.3 million in emergency response organizations across North America—including $2.2 million to 341 organizations in 2020.

“Among the lasting memories from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are first responders rushing towards danger as others evacuated,” notes Pete Sheffield, Enbridge’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of External Affairs.

“These heroes demonstrate selfless acts of bravery every day in keeping our communities safe. The mission of our Safe Community program has remained constant for two decades—to support those on the front line who keep communities safe.”

Safety is not just a core value at Enbridge; it’s the foundation of everything we do. And we’re not only committed to our own safe operations, but the safety of communities where we live and work.

We award Safe Community grants of up to $7,500 to organizations along our rights-of-way—fire departments, emergency medical and rescue services, emergency management organizations, 9-1-1 centers, ambulance services and law enforcement—for safety equipment, professional training or safety education programs.

Enbridge’s Safe Community program has helped support the purchase of fire hoses and nozzles, all-terrain vehicles, pediatric simulators, digital radio equipment, defibrillators, rescue mannequins, SCBA air tanks, ice rescue equipment, thermal imaging cameras, backup generators and more.

“The services provided by emergency responders are a bedrock of local communities across our system,” says Sheffield. “We’re proud to enhance the capabilities of these organizations where we can.”