Ground Zero responders relive their haunting experiences on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for a "60 Minutes" segment about them and the doctor who decided to preserve their oral histories. Scott Pelley reports "Remembering 9/11," part of an hour devoted to the attacks to be broadcast on "60 Minutes" Sunday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.
They were patients with chronic coughs, pains and other 9/11-related physical ailments, before Dr. Benjamin Luft began to realize that the responders he was treating were a special breed. All the examinations and the studies to determine whether their illnesses were 9/11- related began to turn them into statistics and diseases, says Luft. "My feeling was that that's not what the responders were. Let's find out who they are as human beings," he tells Pelley, and he decided to launch the oral history project "Remembering 9/11."
It captures the stories of people like Police Det. Stacey Goodman, who tells Pelley one of her most chilling memories. "At one point...I think he was a retired fireman...comes in. His hands are cupped. And he's got bones in his hands and he goes up to the medical examiner and he puts the bones in front of him and he goes, 'This is my son.' What do you say to that?"
Police Officer Carol Paukner responded to the World Trade Center event before the towers fell. "The jumpers, I think, were the worst. To actually see them jump and pulverize in front of you...that was just horrible," she tells Pelley. "I didn't know what that sound was at first and then you go to see what that sound was, and you realize that it was a person that had just jumped," she recalls.
Luft, a Stony Brook University professor and medical doctor has so far recorded 137 responders and hopes to get many more of the thousands who worked in the aftermath of the towers' collapse and the weeks and months after on the "pile." He tells Pelley, it has been a rewarding experience on both sides of the camera. "Almost invariably, people come to us afterwards and say, 'You know doc, this is the first time that I've been able to talk about this. This is the first time I can tell others what really happened on 9/11,'" says Luft.
Extended interviews conducted by Pelley with these responders and others, including individuals who are featured in excerpts from Luft's oral history project, will be posted on 60MinutesOvertime.com beginning tonight.