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May 02, 2011 04:47 PM

Fmr NYC Responder Reacts To bin Laden's Death

Sioux Falls, SD


A New York native now living in Sioux Falls says he's pleased and relieved that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks is dead.

Greg Santa Maria was working at a hospital near Ground Zero when the Twin Towers fell.
 
"It was a late night last night," Santa Maria said. 

Santa Maria is one of many Americans who stayed up watching news coverage about Osama bin Laden's death. But unlike most people in KELOLAND, Santa Maria knew several people who died in the 9/11 attacks.

Before his job at Sanford Health as an Emergency Services Manager, he was the preparedness coordinator and director of paramedics at St. Vincent's Hospital, a mile from Ground Zero. Santa Maria says it took a while for the news to sink in.

"At first it didn't hit me, the impact of it. Then after a couple of minutes, it started hitting home," Santa Maria said. 

He couldn't wait to celebrate with his friends in New York online or on the phone.

"There was a lot of good celebrations and lots of good feelings, but what I found was that a lot of people who I was talking to had that same emotion going on like I did. And it wasn't about just Osama bin Laden being killed; it was what it represented to us as far as some closure to a chapter in our work," Santa Maria said.

More than 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11 and as a paramedic, Santa Maria still focuses on the survivors.

"We all knew it was a great tragedy, but one of the most overlooked things is that the 30,000 people who were rescued that day," Santa Maria said.

A number that would have been much smaller if it wasn't for first responders who risked their own lives to save others.

"And it was because everybody just dropped their association patch and wore the American Flag that day and banded together and whatever we could put together to work is what we did," Santa Maria said.

Even though it took a decade to catch the mastermind behind the attacks, this New Yorker feels it was worth the wait. Santa Maria says St. Vincent's sent 80 paramedics to Ground Zero and they all returned safely. But he did lose many friends and colleagues when the World Trade Center collapsed.
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