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Olathe ER doctor reflects on 9/11 recovery efforts at ground zero

Dr. Stephanee Evers Olathe Doctor at Ground Zero
Posted at 10:31 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 17:28:37-04

OLATHE, Kan. — Dr. Stephanee Evers watched the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack unfold live on television. And within hours, she was on her way to New York City as part of an urban search and rescue team.

"And as you get there, the whole place is covered in ash. There's no electricity. There's no running water. Everything looks like a third world country," said Evers, who had graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine just one year earlier.

She captured images of the remnants in Lower Manhattan that were ground zero.

"We knew pretty quickly that our mission was going to shift from rescue to recovery," Evers said.

But New York City first responders, who lost so many, never wavered.

"They weren't going to give up and they, they just worked to the bone," Evers said. "They didn't eat. They didn't sleep. They were, you know, just going for hours and hours and hours on end."

Some lessons from the terror attack are now taught at the UMKC School of Medicine by Dr. Erica Carney, an assistant professor of emergency medicine.

"Lack of communication was key," Carney said. "[They] didn't know who was coming in from where. I think the key component for all of us, when it comes to deploying to an event like that identification – what is your role? What is your hierarchy? And not going outside of that."

Evers, who has treated patients at Olathe Health for more than a decade, said 9/11 reaffirmed her commitment to emergency medicine, most recently dealing with COVID-19.

"I think that we've lost sight of that, that ability to come together as a country," she said, "and I hope that by kind of going back through the sentiment and the feelings in the way that everyone felt on 9/11 that maybe we can get back to that."