Vol. 12


Missing on 9/11

September 11, 2001; New York, New York, USA

Meir Sommers was born October 19, 1973. He became a volunteer paramedic. One beautiful clear Tuesday morning in September, he was woken up by his Hatzolah1 radio. It was his dispatcher calling to see if any units were available to respond to a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. Meir jumped into an ambulance and headed to Manhattan.

By the time they got there, the second plane had hit the second tower. They parked three blocks away. They heard and felt a rumble. A big mushroom cloud of smoke came towards them. They ran.

When the smoke started to fade, they came back. Many people were hurt. Meir and his fellow paramedics started helping. Meir got a call from his wife. “Too busy to talk right now,” he shouted into the phone.

Then his wife yelled, “Yeah? Well, your mother is worried and thinks you’re dead! So maybe call her.”

Meir was about to call when they heard another rumble. They saw another mushroom cloud of smoke rising. They started running again as they realized the second tower was falling down.

When they came back, a bus was being organized to take medical personnel down to Chelsea Piers. There they set up a “hospital” with nurses, doctors, and paramedics taking care of patients as they arrived. They made a lot of progress stabilizing patients so they could be sent on to real hospitals.

About 1:00 p.m. Meir’s Hatzolah radio died. His dispatcher did a radio check to all their units to make sure everyone was safe. Meir did not answer, because his battery was dead. He was then labeled “missing.” He had tried to check in again with his wife, but he couldn’t get cell service.

After a while many patients had been treated and transported out, and not many people remained who needed help. Meir decided it was time to go home. When he got off the train, he called his wife to let her know he was alive and on the way. She let him know of all the wonderful people in the community who had called to check on her and offer food and assistance when word spread that he was “missing in action.”

When Meir finally walked in the door after his exhausting experience and long journey home, his wife took one look at him and said, “Clothes. Washing machine. Stat.”2

Penina Sommers, daughter of Meir; New York, USA


1. Hatzolah (hot-ZUH-luh), from the Hebrew word for “rescue,” is believed to be the largest volunteer ambulance service in the United States and operates on four other continents as well. It is supported and staffed by the Jewish community but provides emergency care to anyone in need.

2. Often used in medical situations, “stat.” is the abbreviation of the Latin word statim, which means “immediately.”



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