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WSJ: Helicopters Might Have Saved WTC Victims

Normally, we do not point to articles in the Wall Street Journal because it is a paid subscription site. However, this front page story talks about the possibility that helicopters could have saved victims of the World Trade Center disaster.

Helicopters were used to evacuate a small number of people from the roof of the World Trade Center after the bombing in 1993. But the operation, executed by the NYPD Aviation Bureau, was severely criticized by the New York Fire Department who claimed it was unnecessary.

After 1993, the Port Autority and the New York Police and Fire Departments continued to discuss the possibility of helicopter rescues at the World Trade Center in the future. But, the Port Authority and the Fire Department sided with each other, forcing City Hall to create a compromise plan for use of the Police Aviation Bureau which made it very difficult to officially use the group to save trapped people.

The policy, combined with security procedures that absolutely prohibited access to the roof of the North Tower, contributed to the fact that no rooftop rescues were attempted, despite the obvious presence of the helicopters.

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