Remembering Sept. 11: O'Fallon Deputy Fire Chief Inspired to Serve on Larger Scale
After witnessing the heroic acts of local bystanders and emergency service workers on 9/11, Randy Sanders decided to join the Urban Search and Rescue Missouri Task force.
Deputy Chief Randy Sanders, of the O’Fallon MO Fire Protection District, still remembers the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 clearly. He was in his office doing his morning paper work, when he noticed the tragedy unfolding on his office TV.
“Of course, I was like everyone else,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
As other fire fighters gathered in his office to watch the terrorist attacks, Sanders said they couldn’t help but put themselves in the shoes of the first responders climbing through the wreckage in New York.
Sanders said it was witnessing those heroic acts by local bystanders and emergency service workers that inspired him to volunteer his time on a larger scale.
He began applying for federal rescue programs, and for the past seven years has served as a member of the Urban Search and Rescue Missouri Task force. Members respond to man-made and national disasters nationwide when local emergency response has exhausted their resources.
Since joining the task force, Sanders has aided victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Joplin tornadoes.
“I thoroughly enjoy anytime I can get out and help somebody, all of our people at the fire department would get out and do the same thing,” he said.
This year on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Sanders will join his fellow firefighters at O’Fallon’s 9/11 ceremony. Sanders said he thinks it’s important for Americans to remember everyone who lost their lives that day, and the sacrifices made by emergency responders who went back into the burning buildings to help.
“People don’t realize how hard it is to do that, “ he added. “It makes you appreciate what you have.”
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