9/11 experience inspired medical career

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While others were running away, Pat­rick Youssef ran 40 blocks to help.

When he got to what remained of the World Trade Center, he immediately went to work pulling people away from the rubble.

“It was pretty horrific,” the current Medical College of Georgia neuro­surgery resident said. “You’re seeing people that are dead and severely injured.”

That morning, Youssef was already at work at a computer company in midtown Manhattan when he heard the news.

Curious, he took to the streets of Manhattan just in time to see the second plane crash at 9:03 a.m., and then the eventual collapse of the towers.

Youssef, a New York native, headed toward the rubble.

“When I first got down there, there was concrete dust everywhere and all throughout the city,” he said.

Youssef, a previous member of the Volunteer Ambulance Corps., started pulling people from danger. Another man – possibly named Jerome – was doing the same despite having been hit with some of the debris.

“He must have had some sort of head injury. He went from talking to me to a few minutes later being dead,” Youssef said.

After emergency crews arrived, he turned to handing out water.

It wasn’t until he started heading home six to seven hours later that reality started to sink in.

“It was kind of horrific seeing people in their business suits covered in blood walking outside,” he said.

“Then when I got on the train there were people looking like they were going to lead their normal lives but covered in blood, scratches and bruises. They were the people who were relatively unscathed. That’s when the horror and shock sunk in.”

For several days, he had trouble sleeping before he eventually went numb.

After the snow of concrete dust settled weeks later, Youssef and several friends returned to the site.

“Not seeing the twin towers in the skyline was shocking,” he said.

By the next year, Youssef was in medical school in Buffalo, N.Y.

Although it had always been a long-term plan, the sights the then-24-year-old witnessed on 9/11 – and particularly Jerome – cemented his desire to start immediately. In 2006, he moved to Augusta to begin residency.

“It reaffirmed my belief in people,” he said 10 years later. “The people of America grouped together and got through an unprecedented disaster in a way I never would have thought possible.”


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