Saturday, August 13, 2005

Fatal Confusion

Fatal Confusion. Fatal Confusion? Fatal Confusion! This is how the New York Times describes recordings of the radio communications that ran between FDNY field units and dispatch on the morning of September 11, 2001. The Times' site contains audio snippets of significant moments including, among others, the first emergency calls and both collapses. The radio traffic immediately following the event sounds anything but confused. By the time the third alarm goes out, FDNY has a staging area in place and a plan of attack for the groups responding to the first two alarms. It takes FDNY all of about 60 seconds to conclude terrorism may be involved. In fact, the communications sound eerily nonplussed given the nature of the disaster -- a disaster unlike any in FDNY's broad experience. In short, the recordings reveal little or no confusion, let alone fatal confusion.

Here's the deal. FDNY's response didn't kill anyone. The fuel-laden passenger jets that a bunch of virgin-fancying Islunatics flew into the buildings? They killed many. Put another way, it was the attacks that were fatal, not FDNY's response. FDNY's response was, in a word, heroic. Period. You'd think either Ruth Fremson or her editors would appreciate the distinction.