The EMS operations resumed literally before the dust settled. Triage and treatment teams entered the collapse zone to begin what would be a Herculean effort. To relieve the downtown hospitals from the influx of patients, two Casualty Collection Points were created to treat the throngs of self-evacuating civilians from Lower Manhattan: to the north, Chelsea Recreational Piers; and to the east, Staten Island Ferry terminal. These two Casualty Collection Points also enabled better command and control, better patient tracking, and provided improved safety for EMS responders and civilians. Within the collapse zone, patients were being transported across long and rough distances because of the dust and debris. To assist the on-scene personnel, the EMS deployed its fleet of all-terrain vehicles, which became the workhorse of the operation, running 24 hours a day.
By this time we were receiving assistance from EMS units in the surrounding New York counties and New Jersey. At first, we had problems communicating with one another and tracking patients, but this was quickly overcome once we acquired compatible radio equipment and standardized our tracking mechanisms.
My Chief and myself were given the task of setting up the Staten Island Ferry Casualty Collection Point. While working around the tip of lower Manhattan, we saw a flotilla of every conceivable craft rushing into port, standing against any sea wall space they could find, in an attempt to help civilians (injured to varying degrees) get away from the dust and debris covering Manhattan. We set up an aide station inside the ferry terminal capable of treating upwards of 100 casualties up to the level of advanced life support. We were joined by Emergency Medical Technicians and reinforced by off-duty paramedics, all prepared to receive and treat the crush injuries, dust impacted airways, and burns. However, the volume of casualties was unexpectedly light. After the first 24 hours of the operation, no further survivors where recovered from the collapse zone or void spaces.