|Dr. David Abend gives relief to a police officer working at the World Trade Center site. “It was an important time in my life,” he said.|
Dr. David Abend considers himself lucky. He was able to help out in the aftermath of 9/11.
“A week went by, and I said, ‘what the hell can I do?'” recalled Abend, whose medical practice is in Oradell. “As a physician, I had a very strong desire to go down and help. But there weren’t any survivors. Unless you were a mortician or a pathologist, there was nothing to do. Nothing but treating psychological stress.”
For that, Abend was qualified. In addition to his family practice, he is board-certified in osteopathic manipulative medicine. (He teaches at Touro’s new college of osteopathic medicine.) That enables him to treat back and neck pains.
Finally, a few weeks later, armed with his identification as a volunteer police surgeon for Emerson, he was able to make his way to Fresh Kills, where debris from the World Trade Center had been taken. Detectives and forensic evidence specialists were at the site, poring over two million tons of debris, looking for remains of the victims.
Abend set up a table outside the mess tent and offered his hands to soothe sore backs and necks.
“I treated hundreds of people. I went there every Tuesday. I met all kinds of people from the NYPD, from the Fire Department, who were helping out,” he said.
Then he got a call inviting him to set up at Nino’s, a restaurant eight blocks from the World Trade Center that had begun serving free meals to workers digging out Ground Zero. He went every weekend for six months.
“I treated everybody’s neck and back pain,” he said.
He swapped stories with first responders who were exhausted from working double and triple shifts. In May, the American Red Cross recognized him for his efforts.
“It was an important time in my life,” he says, looking back.