NEW YORK (PIX11) — It was another Tuesday on the job inside the Public Safety Answering Center in Downtown Brooklyn on Sept. 11, 2001.
Then the world changed.
The first call was from a patrol officer in Lower Manhattan. He reported using his radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center’s north tower.
It was 8:46 a.m., and Cheryl James was seated at her desk in from of her computer at the dispatch center.
“At that time, we didn’t have a TV on the floor. We didn’t know the significance until we went upstairs. All hell broke loose,” she said.
James had 16 years on the job and was seven months pregnant at the time of the attacks.
“I had been here for a while, and I knew the more calm I stayed, the more you can understand or do,” James said.
She says she thinks of the families who lost loved ones and her son, who will turn 21 this year.
“It almost feels like yesterday,” James said.
Valencia Formby was five months on the job and walked to her nearest precinct on 9/11.
After they were transported to the center in Downtown Brooklyn, she put on her headset and got a call from a woman inside the towers.
“She was asking me what should she do. I didn’t know what to say. I listened to her, and she heard my voice. I don’t know what happened to her. I still think about her,” Formby said.
Many dispatchers, operators and police communications technicians are still on the job.