Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today We Remember Yamel Merino

Today we remember Yamel Merino, EMT with MetroCare, age 24. She was the only female EMS responder on Sept. 11.

Yamel was two months away from her Disney vacation with her eight-year-old son Kevin, the trip she'd saved and saved for, when she arrived at the World Trade Center with a male colleague and heard the following charge:

One stays with the ambulance; one goes to the towering inferno. If you knew Yamel Marino, you knew which door she chose.

She was 5-4 and wore a size 4. "Pound-for-pound the smallest one there," her boss, Jim O'Connor, said, "and yet this little girl went stride for stride with those burly firefighters and cops." Twenty-five years ago, O'Connor said, men would've never imagined sending a female EMT to such an apocalyptic place. Yamel was last seen calming some hysterical survivor before the first tower collapsed, and her body was found Sept. 12. The youngest female rescue worker to die was among the first heroes buried.

To know this woman is to know she was 16 when she gave birth to Kevin, and to understand she raised a young gentleman without the presence of his father, earned her equivalency diploma and found her calling: Yamel Merino was born to be an EMT. The best in New York, according to the plaque she was too modest to hang. Yamel had just gotten her own apartment, her own car — man, she was proud of that '96 4Runner. 

"I made it. I made it," she told her mother.

We Will Never Forget!

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