Local first responders reflect on the 20th anniversary of 9/11

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — For Josh Bradshaw, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 were a call to action.

“After that day, like a lot of Americans, I felt compelled to do something to help,” said Bradshaw, a community resource manager at Advanced Medical Transport in Peoria.

Bradshaw joined the first EMT class offered by Advanced Medical Transport, and has been with the organization ever since. He said every year on 9/11, they take a moment to pause and reflect.

“We gather as a team, and talk about it, and why it’s important and what it means to each of us,” Bradshaw said. “Just a day of remembrance, remembering why we do the job, why we’re here.”

Washington Police Chief Michael McCoy has 47 years of law enforcement under his belt. In 2001, he was the Chief Deputy Sheriff of Peoria County. He said there was a “heightened awareness” that “this could happen anywhere, at anytime.”

“We certainly got right at it, [and] started doing our homework better. We started really being careful with what we did,” he said. “It’s a reminder that any city can be a target at anytime, and I think that most administrators paid attention to that.”

McCoy said law enforcement today is more “restrictive” because of 9/11.

“We have a lot more rules we have to follow, a lot more training we do, which I think is really good, and you have to be aware all the time,” he said.

McCoy said Peoria County held one of the 9/11 terrorists that was designated an “enemy combatant” by then-President George W. Bush.

Ali Al-Marri, a Bradley graduate student and Qatari national, was arrested in Peoria in December 2001 and held in Peoria until 2003. Al-Marri pled guilty to one count of providing material support to Al-Qaeda in 2009. He was deported in 2015 after spending five years at a supermax prison in Colorado.

Peoria Fire Chief Jim Bachman was seven years into his firefighting career in 2001. With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, he said it changed the way a lot of departments looked at responding to emergency calls.

“Everybody was kind of on high alert. You just felt like you didn’t know what could happen next,” Bachman said.

Bachman recalled the one positive thing about that time was the country being unified.

“That’s something that was really cool that did come out of the tragedy. Everybody was on the same page, or it felt like everybody was on the same page. Everybody had each other’s back,” he said.


9/11 20th Anniversary Commemoration Events

Saturday, September 11

Sunday, September 12

  • 9/11 Memorial: 4 p.m. at Washington Park, 815 Lincoln St., Washington

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