9/11 paramedic receives medal 16 years later

Joe Cruz, who retired after 25 years of service, received the medal in the mail after it had been sitting in a drawer ever since the attacks

By EMS1 Staff

THE DALLES, Ore. — A retired veteran paramedic finally received a medal for his efforts after the 9/11 attacks 16 years later.

KGW reported that former paramedic Joe Cruz spent 17 days helping at Ground Zero after 9/11, and said he still gets nightmares from his experience.

"We heard all the radio traffic, lots of things going on, it was madness," he said. "They started the evacuation of people that were able to make it down. They were bringing down patients, we were treating them right there and transporting."

"All of a sudden people started dropping,” Cruz added. “Lots of people. The sound of somebody hitting the ground from 100 stories is unforgettable."

Cruz moved to Oregon about a year after 9/11 and became a medic as well as a member of the ski patrol on one of the Cascade Mountains. He was diagnosed with PTSD and retired after what he said was a downhill slide in his 25-year career.

Recently, Cruz received a call from the FDNY emergency operations department, who said they had something that belonged to him and they needed his address. He received a package in the mail shortly after.

"I open it up and it was my medal from 9/11 service."

The medal had been sitting in a drawer for almost 17 years.

"It was sitting in a drawer with a list of names of some people that have not received theirs."

The list contained 100 names of people who had not received medals for serving at Ground Zero and assisting in recovery efforts.

"I was really excited to learn I was getting that medal. We don't need them, but at the same time it puts a stamp on your career. We get a little recognition."

"I'm really happy to have received this in memory of everything that we experienced in the city. It's definitely a privilege,” Cruz added.


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