Mass Volunteers At Ground Zero

JANUARY 2002
- Retiree Gavigan Led Sheriff's Contingent - David Gavigan, a former state employee, did not go quietly into the
sunset when he retired from his job at the Commonwealth's Emergency
Management Control Center - The Bunker - in Framingham two years ago.Having
held the rank of colonel in the Mass. National Guard, he was quickly
recruited by Tom Hodgson, Sheriff of Bristol County, where he was given
the title of Special Operations Commander.

It
was under these circumstances that Gavigan found himself heading a team
of special forces, including two K-9 units, at the World Trade Center's
Ground Zero just three days after fateful September 11.

The
sheriff was deeply disturbed about the terrorist attack and wanted to
help. After contacting officials in New York, he assembled a team of
volunteers, all trained personnel within his department, to report to
Ground Zero under the command of Gavigan.

"We
weren't certain just exactly what our role would be," explained
Gavigan, who had previously trained these employees in a quasi-military
style in keeping with his background as an acknowledged expert on crowd
control and terrorism.

"Our K-9
units were promptly put to use in searching for survivors or bodies.
Unfortunately, at that time no further survivors were found and few
bodies were uncovered," Gavigan reported. "Mostly it was parts of
bodies, which were handled gently with utmost care and respect.

"The
New York firefighters were doing most of the exhaustive work of lifting
and passing debris hand-to-hand. They felt it was their personal duty
to be on the front line of searchers. At some point, most had to be
ordered to take a break and get some sleep.

"Many
of our personnel were deployed in the perimeter area. There was a
government building nearby, which was guarded by our people."

As
a state retiree, Gavigan, 61, cannot work full-time for the sheriff.
State law allows a public retiree to work 960 hours per year for any
governmental entity in this state. But Hodgson says that even with
limited work hours, Gavigan is a key member of his team and his
security background knowledge has been invaluable at the county
correctional facility.

Gavigan also
teaches a class at Northeastern on terrorism. He said that it has been
one of the most popular classes at the school since the September 11
attack.

Sheriff Hodgson's personnel
were required to use personal days or vacation days while they were in
New York. "These men and women knew they were using their own time when
they volunteered," said Hodgson. "I commend them for their dedication."

The
volunteers did receive a few perks, however. The Doubletree Hotel in
Times Square provided free rooms. Friday's and The Olive Garden did not
charge for meals and the Bloomberg News Service Building near Ground
Zero stayed open around the clock with showers, cots and buffet food.

And how did Gavigan, a rugged army combat veteran, feel about his stint at the World Trade Center?

"The
scene was worse than I could have imagined. Nothing in my life could
have prepared me for such a holocaust... I found myself fighting back
tears at times. But I will always remember how America responded. There
were volunteers from everywhere... many firefighters from
Massachusetts. While it was a scene of death and destruction, it will
also be remembered as a place of great courage, where lives were
sacrificed on behalf of others."

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