- Sandeep Jauhar was part of a group of doctors and nurses from Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan who headed downtown to help on September 11, 2001.
- A police officer asked the 32-year-old cardiologist to help at a makeshift morgue in the Brooks Brothers store located across the street from Ground Zero.
- After several other doctors left the scene, Jauhar was surprised to be put in charge of the morgue for almost an hour.
- Listen to the full story on the “Household Name” podcast.
Sandeep Jauhar started September 11, 2001 with his wife at her obstetrician. While at the doctor’s office, the 32-year-old cardiologist saw the news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center.
At first, Jauhar didn’t think much of it.
“I just thought it was a terrible thing that happened,” Jauhar said on the latest episode of Business Insider’s Household Name podcast. “I did not think we had to get involved.”
Jauhar, who had just finished his medical residency and was beginning a cardiology fellowship at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, was in the cab on his way to work when he heard the report of a second plane hitting the World Trade Center.
It was then he realised what was happening was not normal.
When Jauhar got to the emergency room of the hospital, he found out that the first of the Twin Towers had come down. He did not believe it until he looked out the window and saw only one building standing, surrounded by a cloud of smoke.
With all hands on deck at the hospital, the doctors and nurses waited for patients to arrive to the trauma center. But communication with first responders downtown was poor and no patients were coming, Jauhar said.
Alongside a group of nurses and doctors, Jauhar volunteered to go down in an ambulance to Ground Zero.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Jauhar said. As the contingent made their way to the site, the colour changed from perfectly sunny in Midtown to dark and smoky as they got closer.
“This is Beirut,” Jauhar said about that day. “This is insane that this is actually NYC.”
When Jauhar and the group of doctors and nurses from Bellevue arrived, Jauhar expected to see more injured.
“I blurted out ‘Where are the patients?’,” Jauhar said. “And someone said ‘They’re all dead.'”
Despite his wife not wanting him to go back to Ground Zero the next day, Jauhar returned to the scene to keep helping.
When he arrived, a cop asked Jauhar for help in a makeshift morgue. It was set up in the Brooks Brothers across the street from Ground Zero. He followed the cop over to the morgue located in the high-end retail clothing store.
Not long after arriving and assessing the scene, Jauhar was horrified to realise that he was the most senior doctor in the room. With no idea what to do, he described the thought of possibly being called on to run the morgue as “disturbing.”
But as other doctors began to step out and leave, Jauhar was put in charge for almost an hour. Medical school didn’t prepare him for this scenario.
“I didn’t want to be in charge,” Jauhar said on “Household Name.” “I’m a cardiologist. I don’t relish emergencies. This was so beyond anything I was trained to do.”
As he began to feel physically sick and nauseous looking at severed bodies, Jauhar ended up leaving the makeshift morgue.
He didn’t go back to help out at Ground Zero the next day, nor did he want to read anything about 9/11. Other than visiting the 9/11 Memorial, Jauhar has sought to keep that day in the corner of his mind so that he didn’t have to talk or think about it.
“I would have stayed if I could have done it,” Jauhar said. “It was such an emotionally troubling thing that I just had to get away. It’s impossible to not have emotions in that situation.”
You can listen to Jauhar’s full story on the latest episode of Business Insider’s Household Name here. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen.
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