Of the approximately 3,000 victims killed in the September 11 attacks, over 400 were emergency workers in New York City who responded to the World Trade Center. The battalion chief of Battalion 1 witnessed American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the North Tower. Over the course of the next three hours, 121 engine companies, 62 ladder companies, and 27 fire officers were deployed to the scene. All off-duty firefighters were recalled. The FDNY also deployed its only Haz-Mat unit, its mobile command center, its field communications unit, its five rescue units, both of its high-rise units, six of its seven squad units, and a tactical support unit.
In an unprecedented emergency situation, hundreds of first responders followed the call of duty and ran forward toward the unimaginable.
Heroes come in all sizes, shapes, and ages. But those who run toward danger in the completely selfless act of helping others are surely made from a special mold. Those who try to fix the unfixable, to help the helpless, and to staunch others’ pain? They are truly remarkable human beings.
We are proud to have a St. Thomas Aquinas student who is one of these remarkable people and who has been running toward danger since he was a young boy.
Aidan Gorman ’23 lives in South Berwick. When he was young, his family lived a few houses down from a fire station. Like many young children, Aidan and his older brother Brad were attracted to all things “emergency”: firefighters, fire trucks, emergency vehicles and personnel. Together, they decorated their little red wagon and outfitted it with all the tools and equipment needed to help in an emergency situation. “Wagon 61” (named after the South Berwick station number) and its two young operators were frequently seen running down the street in full “respond and assist” mode. A favorite scene in the minds’ eye of the station’s firefighters, many recall seeing the boys turn up with all their “gear” and SBFD emblazoned on their shirt backs. They were heroes in the making.
Today, Aidan follows in the tradition of his grandfather, grandmother, stepfather, and older brother in the profession. His grandfather served at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s fire department and was also the Fire Chief of South Berwick for 47 years. Aidan’s stepfather is the Deputy Chief in South Berwick and his older brother, Brad, is a full-time firefighter/EMT in Dover, New Hampshire.
As a first responder, Aidan currently responds to many calls ranging from motor vehicle accidents, fire alarms, structure fires, and medical aid calls to assist ambulance responders. He carries a pager and can usually arrive at the fire station from his house in time to board the second fire truck before it heads out to a call. Over the summer, Aidan participated in ride-alongs with York Ambulance Emergency Medical Services and although he is still restricted from certain activities due to his young age, he is well on his way to entering the firefighting profession.
As we reflect over the coming days of the selfless sacrifices offered by so many 20 years ago on September 11, we are called to pray for those who choose and who continue to choose to serve our community, our nation, and our world by dedicating their lives to helping others. A person who is propelled forward by the sheer desire to help another is inarguably unique. Their hearts are at once both courageous and compassionate.
We are tremendously blessed at STA to know one such young man and to call him a Saint. For in every sense of the word, he is one.