On September 11, 2001, Hell on Earth hit New York City. As the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center burned, millions watched, thousands died and a select-few ran head-first into danger.
Thousands of First Responders of the Fire Department of New York, the New York Police Department and other emergency crews rushed to the scene. Nearly 400 of them would sacrifice their lives, trying to save others.
Wichita Falls Firefighter/EMT Kyle Underwood remembers how he heard of the attacks. "I was in a vehicle driving when it came across the (radio) station." Underwood recalls the thoughts, racing through his mind as the situation became more clear. "Just all the lives that were getting lost, the innocent lives that didn't have anything to do with that, that was just as the wrong place at the wrong time."
As the hours turned into days, and the death toll rose, a grave realization set in. "It was a true tragedy, it was an eye-opener for me personally as a Firefighter to realize that situations like that can arise that me as a Firefighter could be in."
Underwood explained that his first concern in any emergency situation is the safety of the citizens involved. "My main priority is life safety." However, he says danger to his own life is always in the back of his mind. "I realize that as a Firefighter part of my role and duty is to serve the public and that might mean possibly losing your own life and I just accept it as part of the career and career field I chose".
Underwood says his uncle's career as a Firefighter inspired him to pursue the profession. By the time he was in high school, he was certain it was the career to choose. He encourages any person that has an interest in the profession to work toward it and says that a strong sense of camaraderie and brotherhood come with job. That very sense of family can make deaths of other First Responders hit close to home.
The events of 9/11, perhaps better than any other, underscore that risk. "Even though you hear of Firefighters that lose their lives that you might have ever known, but it can still hit home. That it could be you or your fellow Firefighter that you work with that it can happen to next."
Underwood understands the dangers of the job and accepts the readily. He says the strong desire to serve and protect made the decision to accept the risk come quite easily. His sense of duty to the Citizens of Wichita Falls is placed much higher than the risk of not coming home.