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  World Trade Center

New York World Trade Center Disaster, September 11, 2001

Update: New York Ground Zero

New York World Trade Center Disaster, November 11, 2001

ARTI team members led by Pancho (ARTI Director Southern Peru) continued to find victims remains in the Staten Island landfill with the assistance of the casualty locator and support of the NYPD.

The fact that victim remains were being located at the dump was not very popular politically for some valid reasons, and ARTI operated under semi-covert circumstances with the NYPD officers co-operating to find the remains of their comrades.. ARTI maintains the position that families deserve to recover these remains and that it is a travesty that they end up buried in a landfill, unbeknownst to the families.

November 7th - ARTI Chief Doug Copp, Sasha Kraev (Northwest Region 2), Jesse Escochea (HQ Region 1), and Mark Spencer (Midwest Region 5), arrived in New York courtesy of Northwest Airlines. The mission of the trip was to bring above the table, the situation at the landfill and to obtain a green light from the city to train either the FDNY or the NYPD on the ARTI locator equipment.

November 8th, the team members made several attempts to contact either Mayor Giuliani or Chief Kerik. no reply was received by any official department contacted.

November 9th, the team continued attempts to get an audience with the mayor or NYPD Chief kerik. ARTI was told there was no time available to meet with Chief Kerik, and of course that was the day he held the press conference and announced his retirement from the position. The team spent a few hours around town in interviews and filming for a documentary being jointly produced by Street Heat Productions of Torrance, CA. and Copp Life Systems.

A new mission was recommended to ARTI by Dr Ken Dupuy, former Secretary of the Treasury Deputy under 2 previous Administrations, to assist in training the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan on front line USAR. The team spent most of the afternoon visiting consulates to arrange for visas for the mission.

November 10th, Doug and Sasha met with FDNY Urban Rescue personnel to discuss the use of the locator at the WTC. Although they were very responsive to the offer, it will be up to the new chief to make the final decision. At this point, the team returned home to await further action.

November 19th, Doug received a call from New York, Pete O'Donohue,New York. He informed Doug that The new chief of USAR NYFD ( former Chief Downey is still missing) wishes ARTI to return and conduct a presentaion on the locator technology and to demonstrate the unit's effectiveness, to his unit. As of Nov 26, Doug has not received the phone call. ARTI ,already, has video of locating remains with the NYPD and has previously recovered 40 victims at the WTC and the Staten Island Dump. It has taken as little time as 3 minutes for the Casualty Locator to find victims remains.

ARTI has the only locator of human remains, and has successfully used it in Kosovo, the WTC, the SwissAir crash, and many other disaster sites (18 missions). The locator can be purchased through ARTI, and is offered to all city and fire/rescue/police organizations that would like to add this technology to their response

ARTI is currently on alert to go to a collapsed mine//explosion in mainland China. Arti would use the casualty locator and another unique ARTI technology: The Mine Collapse Live Victim locator. It enables us to hear 600 ft. through solid rock. We have used this at a Gold Mine Collapse in the Peruvian Andes.

Doug Copp
Rescue Chief // Disaster Manager
American Rescue Team International

Sept 23, noon.

The CNN reports contain false information. CNN has broadcasted information supplied by a newly arrived rescue team that the subterranean area may contain live victims and certainly contains dead victims. This is false. ARTI completely searched this entire area days ago. There are no trapped victims and no dead bodies or body parts remaining, in these areas. They also said that the area was hot and on fire. This is false. There are no fires there ( The subterranean fires went out days ago) and the area is no hotter than a 'normal' collapsed building.

ARTI Chief Doug Copp contacted CNN and gave them the correct information to broadcast. It was well received. Doug has appeared on CNN more than 25 times, over the years and had done an earlier CNN interview at the WTC.

ARTI has been broadcasted on Fox and 'Inside Edition' 3 times searching the subterranean areas.

Sept 23, NYC, Ground Zero.

Our work here is almost over. We will return to the site, tomorrow to locate more dead bodies, above ground.

Team members who have worked at the WTC ; include, 9 members from New Mexico, 6 from Texas, 1 from Alaska (hello to Matt, and sorry for the oversight), 1 from Madison Wisconsin FD, 20 new members from Chicago FD, 2 New York Peruvians, 'Pancho' ( ARTI Director of the Southern Region of Peru and the National FD of Peru), 8 from New York, 1 from New Jersey, 1 France, 1 Turk.

We did manage to make the rescue an International Response in spite of political considerations and restrictions.

The various ARTI members using the Casualty Locator recovered many victims and we searched the entire subterranean area. Readers may recall that the underground search was terminated by FEMA because it was too dangerous.

After this 'shut down', ARTI Chief, Doug Copp Rescue and Tech Steve Lentz crawled down into the 'tiny' hole with Ron the Israeli. This tiny crack opened up into an escalator area one hundred feet inside. We saw a 30 ft. long 'spray painted sign’. It read: "DO NOT ENTER! UNSTABLE!" It was painted on a carrying beam, which had come down, along with the entire ceiling to 1 1/2 ft high. We crawled under it and around a column. The ceiling above our heads had disappeared except for some large chunks of concrete dangling precariously above our heads. The floor had collapsed into a huge, dark pit except for a ledge, which was 8 inches wide and sloped on an angle down into the pit. Immediately, next to us was a huge ceiling, which had swung down, forming a wall swinging freely in the air. We were careful to touch nothing except the floor under our shoes...and very gently clung to the wall and slithered above the open pit until we reached another area, which had, a floor but the ceiling was ready to collapse.

We crawled and traveled until we searched 4 levels below ...into the very bottom subway tracks. There we found the tracks flooded, sewage dripping down all around us and the subway train was crushed in the front and windows 'blown-out', in the back. The subway tunnel itself was collapsed on the Manhattan side and open on the New Jersey side. The ceilings had smashed down to the subway deck.

The area was dark, the blackest and darkest of any of the 894 collapsed buildings I have crawled into.

Soot from the jet fuel burning coated everything with a layer a 1/8 to 1/4 inches deep. The air was choking.

When we returned to the surface, hours later, we checked ourselves out with 'Elliott" our team doctor. He told us that we would cough the soot out of our lungs during the next couple of weeks and that there would be no permanent health threat.

I laughed at Steve because he was so dirty and he replied that I was worse. I thought he was kidding because I had made conscious efforts to stay clean.

When I got back to the Hotel Marriott Marquis ( Thanks to Ahmett , The Night Manager and new ARTI member for Comping our rooms) I looked in the mirror. I had never been so dirty in all my 50 years of life. You could see my white eyes and pink tongue. My beard was almost indiscernible. The soot made it necessary to stare at my face for a while before you actually noticed my beard. It was very weird.

We did go into the hole again and the Chicago FD members crawled into the adjacent hole, next to our entry. This took them into the mall or store area. They caught some looters red-handed. You will be shocked to find out who they were but it will come out in court.

I felt like ARTI had done a good job helping families with closure by locating so many victims with our technology and most importantly for me I feel comfortable with my conscience that we left nobody buried alive trapped inside of that subterranean hell.

Having said all of the above I would like to bring to your attention that ALL ARTI members are volunteers. We have no time for fundraising and use our own money. As an example I personally have given 75% of this years income to the team and still have $13,000 on my credit cards. This disaster has cost us $40,000 in expenses and destroyed urban heavy rescue equipment. The loss of our rescue equipment makes me nervous.

We have $300,000 in donated fire-fighting equipment to take to Peru in December for the National Fire Dept. of Peru. They, also, are all volunteers and receive no support for equipment except from a couple of others like us. The airlines will not fly us for free to give training or to deliver fire-fighting equipment.

If you are from any of the countries that we have helped or the thousands we have saved around the world hit the 'paypal' button' on the top of the page. If you are from any of the countries who have had disasters in the last 16 years then you have probably seen us on TV saving the lives of your people. The next life we save may be someone you love but it will most certainly be someone we do.

This disaster had the biggest buildings I have worked at but not the most complicated. The explosion was the greatest. The financial support to the victims, families of victims and to the local authorities the greatest; however, the one thing that will stick in my mind is the moral courage and heroism of the local FD and PD. These men were digging for their friends and family. It was tough. I respect them greatly. and for a man who detests the word : 'hero'. I will use it for them. They are heroes. My heart goes out to them.

Douglas F. Copp
Rescue Chief / Disaster Manager
American Rescue Team international

September 17, 2001

Update by Doug Copp,

The casualty locator has turned out to be a real star. Rob Verhoust, ARTI member from Madison Wisconsin Fire Dept, used the locator with the New York City Fire Dept, the FBI, the New York Police Dept, the FEMA task force from Massachusetts, and other ARTI members.

Within 20 minutes on scene the locator, located its first victim. The casualty locator had been used at 15 prior disasters but, unfortunately, as of 2am last night, it was finally destroyed. New locators will be arriving on Wednesday and they will resume searching for individual victims and large caches of victims. ARTI member Steve Harrington will be on scene to insure no more breakdowns happen with the casualty locator.

We are continuing to search for live victims and are hopeful that another survivor will be rescued. We expect to be searching for live survivors for another week. All team members are extremely exhausted and doing our very best.

In my opinion the skill level and interagency cooperation between ARTI and government authorities has become very close. Kevin Masi of the PBMS Auto Unit, deserves special mention for his intelligence and ability to take clear and decisive action in the middle of chaos. This is a young man who will go far.

Be prepared as we are hoping very much for another miracle survivor to be rescued.

Doug Copp, Ground Zero, New York.

When asked about the psychological impact of being at the disaster and searching for victims Doug Copp answered:

“For myself, I really do not know what a psychologist would have to say about me, but I have reached a point where this type of thing has become my normal life.”

Doug then described some scenes beyond description that rescue workers are subject to. Doug continues to say: “ I have reached a new plateau in my rescue life which at this point I have no understanding of, however I am doing the best I can to keep my emotions controlled and stay focused. Tempers and emotions are running high with most of the team, attempting to cope with the trauma.

I must as chief say how very proud I am of Rob Verhoust. He is only 23 years old and he has proven himself to be an outstandingly courageous, skillful and highly functional young man. Madison Heights Fire Dept has been extremely well represented.

It has been extremely luck that most of the people who were in the buildings were evacuated before the building collapsed. “

September 15, 2001

According to the ARTI Rescue Chief Doug Copp, team members have received their official documentation from the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and went to work using the ARTI casualty finder.

The casualty finder has helped ARTI team members in NY working with the Massachusetts FEMA team and the NYPD find a void under the collapsed World Trade Center containing the remains of several victims. Efforts to extricate the bodies are being hampered by steel enclosures and underground fires.

Meanwhile, ARTI Rescue Chief Doug Copp and other team members are searching for entrances in to the underground parking structure and mall structure in their efforts to locate survivors. One such entrance had been identified but was subsequently covered up with rubble as construction equipment worked to clear streets around the Trade Center.

Hopes are running high that entrances can be found because ARTI members are still confident that there is the possibility of finding survivors under the devastated buildings.

Update: Albuquerque, New Mexico from Doug Copp

September 12, 2001
Director of the FAA gave permission for 9 ARTI team members to fly from Albuquerque New Mexico to New York.

Congresswoman Heather Wilson played a significant roll in assisting ARTI.

Our plans are to work the team 24 hours a day while the victims are still alive. At that point the casualty locator will be loaned to other organizations as well. We expect it to used 24 hours a day to reduce the number of victims, who would otherwise never be recovered.

After Doug Copp spoke with the ARTI team members in Turkey, Nashuh Mahruki, Rengen Tansrever and Memo Tansrever, he was informed of the current situation in Turkey. Bureaucratic obstacles are still holding the 30 Turkey, ARTI members, who are mobilized to come to New York, back.

They are not giving up! Lives are at stake!

These team members are very courageous, well experienced and have saved hundreds of lives since 1994, when AKUT was formed with Doug Copp.

Hopefully the government bureaucrats involved will place rescue and saving lives ahead of political considerations.

I expect that it will take another two days for them to get final approval. Consider this: AKUT gave immediate clearance to the American government for the earthquake in Turkey without political problems. Is it not a shame that we cannot put the same priority on saving victims as they showed us?

Mary Grandfield is coordinating with Cathy Anderson of American Airlines to get our Peruvian team members on the next flight leaving from Lima Peru.

  • Efrain Huaman Carrion, Southern Peru ARTI Director
  • Lucho Hernandez Caisco, Fire Chief
  • Jose Luis Orejas Vega, Peruvian Fire Chief of Airports
  • Andy Matthews, Rescue Specialist
  • Herbert Robles, Northern Peru ARTI Director

American Airlines and the US Embassy in Peru have been very cooperative, however, they still need further documentation, which we are in the process of providing. We expect these procedural details will be resolved shortly and these outstanding and well-qualified members of ARTI will be on route to help save those people who have been buried alive in New York City.

Consider this: Herbert Robles is the ARTI director for Northern Peru, the rescue chief for a city of a million people, the head of the National University and in the earthquake in Peru during the 1970’s in which 72,000 people died, he was buried alive for 48 hours. He survived in the triangle of life, which existed, next to his brother’s motorcycle. Herbert Robles understands the mind and need of those victims trapped at the World Trade Center. We need him there!

UPDATE New York From Peter and Elizabeth Donahue

September 12, 2001

New York team members, Peter and Elizabeth Donahue, while arranging rescue efforts were able to provide a brief update today.

Making arrangements for ARTI team members for rescue efforts has had Peter and Elizabeth busy contacting officials and preparing resources.

Very special thanks for the efforts of New York City Councilman Kenneth Fisher, for his work in helping ARTI set up and care of making sure ARTI gets the Copp Casualty Locator put into action immediately.

While handing out election cards for a local campaign Peter relays he was talking to some friends and was told a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. At first discounting and not believing this, Peter turned around and witnessed the second plane crash into the second tower. “Everything, was chaotic and no pay phones or cell phones were working”. Very shocked, horrified and saddened, Peter started to take his children away from the area and still in sight of the towers they heard an announcement to get out of the area. 35 seconds later the first tower collapsed.

Peter states he was very sad and felt so horrible he was not there with the other rescue workers at the same time not knowing what to explain to his children of what was going on.

Peter spent 8 years with the New York City Auxiliary police emergency unit, assigned to the 94th precinct. Peter was one of 150 auxiliary members until the unit was disbanded in 1994.

Peter relayed his sadness for his mentor and dear friend Chief Ray Downey who is among one of the rescue workers missing in the World Trade Center Collapse as well his heart goes out to his other former fellow auxiliary emergency members who are on scene now.

Peter will be reporting back and is preparing now for arrival of Doug Copp and other ARTI team members. Special thanks to all those assisting ARTI efforts in New York.

UPDATE From ARTI Chief, Doug Copp:

September 11, 2001
NYC's skyline billows with smoke, the WTC destroyed ARTI team members are assembling and being deployed from various countries around the world.

Several team members from Peru are on their way with the assistance of the US Embassy, in Peru.

We are working with American Airlines to get ARTI members from outside of the US to get ARTI rescue members on location.

ARTI chief and team members will be leaving from Albuquerque, New Mexico, by earliest available aircraft. As well Congresswoman Heather Wilson is busy working diligently on behalf of ARTI.

We believe at this point that there are 1000 people still alive, and our focus will be on getting these survivors out safely. We expect because of the way these buildings fell there will be thousands of deaths as a result. The majority of survivors will be found in the adjacent buildings that were collapsed as a result of the shockwaves. The danger will be that these buildings will be severely damaged and will continue to collapse over the next three days.

The Brigadier General Peppe has informed us that no planes can fly and that he is unable to break the blockade. The military are in a state of alert. No planes can fly in the US accept for strategic military flights.

We have the private phone and fax and are arranging to get the cell number for, Andrew H. Card, Jr. (chief of staff for President Bush). Tonight, (September 11, 2001) by 9pm Albuquerque time we will be sending a fax and phoning to get him to intervene and allow rescue to take place.

No rescue can take place until the military allows rescue teams to fly to New York.

Earlier today on NBC ARTI chief Doug Copp stated that the most important thing in the first phase of a disaster is for the authorities to take a deep breath, think and be calm and not over react.

At this moment in time on this first day, people are going to die and have already died. More will die if calmness and reason do not prevail.

Rescue people need to be able to rescue the people because there are still probably 1000 people still alive, the numbers being reduced by the minute.

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