WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Friday marks 19 years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and thousands of lives were lost including those of firefighters and law enforcement.
Wichita Falls heroes reflect on what that day has meant to them all these years.
It was a day like no other and local heroes said this should serve as a reminder of the courageous men and women who choose every single day to run toward danger and not away from it.
Fire Chief Ken Prillaman, Wichita Falls Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Charlie Eipper nor Detective Marisa Cervantes will never forget the numbers: 72 law enforcement officers, 343 firefighters, because they represent the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
“This was a very dark day in the fire service,” Prillaman said. “We’ve never experienced anything like that in terms of loss of life of firefighters.”
“I was in high school when it happened, so I can remember the feeling, almost a scary feeling and now as a police officer it’s a reminder of what could happen at any moment,” Cervantes said.
They all agree whenever this day comes around it reminds them there is always an enemy out there lurking to attack.
“This was of course a severe one where we saw our brothers and sisters and other first responders going into buildings and retrieving people trying to save lives and end up losing their own lives,” Eipper said.
But that horrific day shifted the mindset of many who serve and protect.
“While I don’t worry day to day that we’re going to lose dozens of our staff we still focused on virtually every single transaction or interaction on doing it in a way that ensures that our staff goes home to their family,” Prillaman said.
Though emotional, 9/11 has become a source of motivation for those who are risking their lives for others.
Cervantes and Eipper said they tap into their training becomes top priority.
“We have to maintain that, that’s everything from the mental training that we role play in our own minds to be prepared for those kinds of situations, physical fitness, knowing the law,” Eipper said.
Citizens are being reminded, those who leave their homes each day not knowing if they’ll return to their families, do what they do to keep this community safe.