COVID-19 Weekly Update (9/11/2020)

A message from our CEO, Wendy Sullivan



Today, we remember the life-changing events that happened on this day, September 11, in 2001. We also remember the challenges that faced people with disabilities during the evacuation of the World Trade Towers.

When it comes to safety in the event of a fire, stairs are one of the most critical lifelines to survival. What can often be forgotten is that stairs are not always accessible to people with disabilities. That fact was particularly apparent when individuals in wheelchairs struggled to get out of the towers, sometimes carried by groups of coworkers, strangers, and firefighters - sometimes left behind altogether.


Yet, that was not the case for John Abruzzo, a quadriplegic working in the North Tower who was knocked out of his chair when the first plane struck. Like others, John had a hero and advocate in a coworker named Mike Fabiano. Fabiano, along with other coworkers, worked together to rescue Abruzzo from the building on 9/11. They used an emergency evacuation chair designed with sled-like components, making it easier to descend stairs to travel down 69 stories. Finally reaching the lobby, the group hauled Abruzzo in the evacuation chair over debris and broken glass, lifting him through a busted window and onto a street sidewalk. A few moments later, the building collapsed.


Today, John Abruzzo's evacuation chair is on display at the New York 9/11 Memorial Museum. It is an object that reminds us of the particular vulnerability of those with limited mobility, and that sometimes everyone needs a helping hand.  


The evacuation chair helped save five other people from the World Trade Center that day. 9/11 is just one of the many reasons we practice safety drills and advocate for access to the tools people might need during an emergency. 9/11 was a horrific attack, and it taught us much about how to prevent the loss of life for people with disabilities during a crisis.


Today, as we commemorate this terrible milestone in American history, please take a few moments to refamiliarize yourself with our work area's safety policies, practices, and procedures.


As we take this time to think of ways to care for one another, I want to also encourage you to get your flu shot early this year. Getting the shot is important to the health of you, your family, friends, coworkers, and those you support. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, each of us must work extra hard this year to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses, like the flu. It is more important than ever. 


If you participate in our insurance program, the shot is free and available at your local drug store. For those not enrolled in our program - it is likely that your policy also covers the flu shot at no cost to you. In the case that there is a cost, [we might need something about this] Finally, and as an ongoing reminder, if you or a family member display symptoms of respiratory illness, high fever, or other COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, please consult with your healthcare provider and stay home. 


As always, please take care of yourself, those who turn to you, your family, and friends. You are important and valued. Thank you for all you do each day to live our mission.


Wendy Sullivan

Chief Executive Officer

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