Samford University’s School of Public Health and Moffett and Sanders School of Nursing came together to host a panel discussion titled “A Holistic View of Disaster Response Post 9/11” for undergraduate nursing and Master of Social Work students on Feb. 8.
Ann Van Hine, a widow of a fallen 9/11 firefighter and author of the book Pieces Falling, traveled from New York to participate in the event. She shared her story, beginning with the last conversation she remembers with her husband two days before September 11, 2001. “I heard him say, I am so blessed. Why, I asked him? And he said, because I’m married to Miss Anne. The fact that I remember that conversation is truly a gift,” she said.
On Sept. 11 and the days, weeks and months that followed, Van Hine said it was her faith that carried her through a personal loss in the midst of an international tragedy. “It has taken me a long time to realize that the lens in which I see Sept. 11 is different than the average person,” she said. “I see it through the lens of a firefighter widow. I see it through the lens of a Christian, and I see it through the lens of an American.”
After sharing her story, Van Hine was joined by her fellow panelists—John Hill, a chaplain in the U.S. Secret Service, Lisa Turley, a FEMA crisis counselor for the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mark Baker, a physician at Children's of Alabama and a member of the Alabama Disaster Medical Assistance Team—for a time of questions and answers.
Throughout the discussion, resilience became a common theme. “Every one of us is so resilient, even in the face of tragedy and disaster,” Turley said. “I have learned that people are incredibly strong; they are incredibly selfless; and they are incredibly resilient.”
“I think for me, if I had to say the greatest thing I have ever learned from this work is that it really, truly matters how you view things,” Hill said. “If you view somebody as a victim, they are going to be a victim. But if you view somebody as a survivor, they will act like a survivor. They will rise to the occasion every time with resilience.”