Audio and Transcripts
911 Calls from September 11, 2001
Friday, March 31, 2006; 7:00 PM
New York City released partial recordings of more than nine hours of 911 calls that began pouring in on the sunny and deadly morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as emergency operators struggled to comprehend the chaos unfolding at the burning World Trade Center. Find below several audio excerpts, a message provided by the New York Fire Department and the complete transcripts.
Excerpt 1: FDNY personnel struggle to overcome confusion about where the primary command post will be established at the World Trade Center.
Excerpt 2: An emergency operator takes a call from inside the building. After learning that there are 120 people, the dispatcher urges the caller not to break a window for fear that it will only make the fire spread faster.
Excerpt 3: An emergency operator takes a call from inside the building. After learning of heavy smoke, the call is lost.
Excerpt 4: A recorded call between a dispatcher and emergency personnel from September 11, 2001, offers a glimpse into the urgency in responding to the unfolding disaster.
"READ THIS FIRST" (From the FDNY)
This CD contains written transcripts of telephone conversations between operators of the New York City Fire Department, and persons who called the 911 system on September 11, 2001, about the attack on the World Trade Center. Operators from the New York City Police Department often participated in these conversations as well. If the speaker is designated in a transcript as "CRO" or "DISPATCHER" that is a New York City Fire Department operator. If the speaker is designated as "OPERATOR" that is a New York City Police Department operator.
As required by the decision of the New York Court of Appeals, the conversations have been redacted to protect the privacy of those who called 911. In accordance with the Court's ruling, the callers' words have been completely redacted, which means that only the operators' words are contained in the transcripts. In addition, if the operator repeated identifying information provided by the caller, such as the caller's name, or telephone number or office room number, this information also has been redacted to protect the caller's privacy.
The other CDs in this set contain the audio recordings of these same telephone conversations. Thus, there are two sets of records containing these conversations in this CD set -- the audio records and the written transcript records. While these audio and written records largely contain the same content, and the same redactions, the transcripts often contain more words than the audio records. This is because there are many instances when the caller to 911 and the operator are speaking at the same time, and it was necessary to redact the operator's overlapping words to completely redact the caller's words from the audio recording. On the transcripts however, it was possible to separate the caller's words and the operator's words, and include the operator's words.
In addition, the original audio records did not contain an audible indication of the time the telephone call commenced and ended; that information is not part of the audio record, but is obtainable from a counter on the audio equipment. Time information was added to some of the audio recordings on the CDs when these recordings were created from the original, master recordings. The time information was added to all of the transcripts when they were prepared, so the complete information about when the calls began and ended is contained in the transcripts.
The CDs and corresponding transcripts are labeled EMS Part 1, EMS Part 2 and so on, and Fire Part 1, Fire Part 2, and so on. This is a matter of convenience, to facilitate the identification and differentiation of the different CDs and transcripts. The numbering does not reflect any particular chronological order. There are also a few calls that are duplicated -- they appear in two different audio CDs and transcripts.
It should be noted that the New York City Fire Department contains two emergency services -- the Emergency Medical Service ("EMS") and the Fire Service, and that each of these services has operators who handle 911 calls. Calls that were answered by EMS operators are on the audio CDs and the corresponding transcripts that are labeled EMS Part 1, Part 2 and so on. Calls that were answered by Fire Service operators are on the audio CDs and the corresponding transcripts that are labeled Fire Part 1, Part 2 and so on.