The missing included Keith Fairben and Mario Santoro, two full-time NewYork-Presbyterian EMTs.
“They were among the first who made it down there after the planes hit,” says Friend.
Also missing were two paramedics who worked with both NewYork-Presbyterian and full time with the New York City Fire Department — Lt. Kevin Pfeifer and James Pappageorge.
“For me, knowing they were still unaccounted for was the hardest part,” says Friend. “It was always on my mind.”
Those four colleagues, Keith and Mario, Kevin and James, died on 9/11. Every year, their colleagues gather at the Memorial constructed in their honor at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
This year is no different.
“It’s always a hard day,” says Friend. “We observe a moment of silence at the Memorial, then the hospital holds a service in the chapel. People we haven’t seen in a while who worked for NYP at the time, along with many other hospital employees, join together.
“The EMS Memorial is a place to remember the co-workers we lost and the sacrifice they made to help their fellow man.
“The hospital has supported us in many ways, including the construction of this Memorial. NewYork-Presbyterian has always done its best to step up in times of crisis.”
Yet the wounds of 9/11 remain. Seventeen years later, Friend has never been back to Ground Zero.
“People have different ways of handling things,” he says. To this day, he doesn’t go anywhere without his passport and hospital ID. “You just never know when something will happen and you’ll need them to get back into New York.”
Like always, Friend is determined to be prepared, to go wherever he is needed.
“If you’re in this profession,” he says, “the natural thing is to want to help others.”