Tragic events of 9/11 continue to inspire people to serve others in College of DuPage program

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, Ross Weidner and Poinesha Barnes WLS logo
Friday, September 10, 2021
Tragic events of 9/11 continue to inspire people to serve others
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At the College of DuPage, lessons learned from 9/11 help to train a new generation of first responders.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new generation of first responders is training at the College of DuPage for an event they hope never happens. Instructors say lessons learned from the emergency response on September 11th are a reminder we can never be too prepared.

"I think seeing first responders, police, fire, go in while everyone is running away it's...something that I feel you're called to do," said Maegan Diaz, a Suburban Law Enforcement Academy recruit.

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"I think it takes a lot of bravery and courage to be in this career," said Xavier Rendonx, College of DuPage Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services Student

Diaz and Rendonx are students at the Homeland Security Training Institute. Part of the College of DuPage, the center has multiple academies for firefighters, police officers and EMTs to get hands on experience. The curriculum focuses on disaster preparedness, even for those as massive as 9/11.

"Everybody remembers where they were on that day," said John Mondelli, College of DuPage Homeland Security Training Institute Program Manager

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"Being old enough to know what was going on really impacted me a lot," said Diaz.

A 1000 pound, 10 foot long beam from one of the trade center towers is on display at the institute...twisted red-tinted metal, caused by intense heat from the explosion, a reminder of one of America's darkest days.

"It smelled metallic," recalled Mike Fagel, College of DuPage instructor.

Fagel traveled to ground zero with other emergency workers from Chicago shortly after the attack. Now he is an instructor at the institute.

"This academy has done a great job with making sure that we understand that we have to be prepared," said Diaz.

"I want people to be better prepared for what's coming next," said Fagel. "And I don't know what's coming next."