Menlo Park First Responders Recall 9/11 Aftermath

MENLO PARK (CBS 5) — The Menlo Park Fire Search and Rescue Team spent two weeks at Ground Zero following the September 11th terrorist attacks. The team’s photos and videos from those days provide a different perspective on the tragedy.

“Most people have never seen what this looks like from our perspective. This is what we did, day in, day out,” said Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

They are the most horrible home movies you will probably ever see.

“There’s very few pictures that I think were really allowed to get on the Trade Center site,” Schapelhouman said.

Schapelhouman dusted off the video and pictures he took over the two-week period that he and other members of his department were there. He invited them to see what they lived through first hand.

“Burning items in the pile, burning flesh in the pile. Smell of decomposition. I can’t duplicate that with his videotape, but it brings all that back.” Schapelhouman said.

“These people were incinerated. You didn’t have, you had very few whole victims that were there,” David Hammond said.

>> Special Section: 9/11 – 10 Years Later
Hammond doesn’t forget about it a day in his life. With a huge memorial planned for the next month, he knows it won’t be easy.

The upcoming 10 year anniversary should be quite moving. But none of these people will be there; they weren’t invited to New York City. In fact, no first responder has been invited.

“And I think to me, that shows a great deal of disrespect,” said Rex Ianson, who helped manage search efforts during those horrible days.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there is just no room. Families of victims only are the only ones invited. It’s opened yet another wound in many first responders around the country, who would like some recognition.

“I think it’s a betrayal on their part that you don’t recognize that these people put their lives on the line,” Ianson said.

“When I first came back, I coughed nonstop for 8 months. I’ll now get coughing spells that will last 2 to 3 months,” said Division Chief Frank Fraone.

He still has never been the same physically, as with many first responders. Yet he never asked for anything from federal funds available.

“There’s people out there in far more need than I am. Families of those who perished, to help support them,” Fraone said.

Fraone is gong back for the anniversary, to show his family the where hell once stood. He wants to share his experience, no matter the politics.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Mike Sugerman
  • Jospeh Kern

    I think it’s a bit self serving and unprofessional for Chief Schapelhouman to have taken and kept “home movies” and photos from the aftermath of this tragic event. Shouldn’t Chief Schapelhouman turned those over to NYPD? We should have respect for the people who lost their lives, for the people who served. Taking time to make keepsake recordings is disrespectful in my opinion.

  • Tom Schneider, MD

    I am a physician and a pulmonologist (lung specialist) and I would like to send an e-mail to Harold Schapelhouman about his cough and lung problem and I hope it might help him. This is sincere and not a hoax.
    Please let me know if there is an e-mail address that I could use to reach him.

    Thank you,
    Tom Schneider, MD

  • michele

    I have to agree that it is self serving and unprofessional for Schapelhouman to be capitalizing on 911 photos and movies. It is selfish and self serving but not surprising. Unfortunately, many people are losing sight that these firefighter..1st responders were doing their jobs and getting paid to do so. I find it repulsive that firefighters find it disrespectful and a betrayal that they aren’t included in the in the 10 year anniversary of the World Trade Center. For GODs sake, I can’t agree more with Mayor Bloomberg that only the family’s of those deceased should be included. This is not an ‘event’ but a moment where families alike can gather, reflect, remember and RECALL their love one’s that lost their lives . Although this “event” as Schapelhouman calls it, was devastating and altered our country at this moment in time how appropriate would it be for us(those affected and afflicted) to sit back and realize what our country went through as a whole instead of looking at it as a personal self serving ‘event’. Every American with a sense of pride and a heart has had to deal with the ramifications and surruelity of 911…whether you lost a member of your family member, served on the front line or just had plane old country pride.
    On a side note.. How appropriate is it that one firefighter choose to take his family to the World Trade Center on his own not capitalizing on the hero..ism but, in fact in my eyes choosing a more personal appropriate approach to healing from the ramifications of such a horrific disaster..’event’.
    With heart,
    Michele Chanteloup Sweeney

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