ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As the country marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, an Albuquerque woman is remembering her time as a paramedic at Ground Zero as part of a New Mexico disaster team that helped many people in the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. Cheryl Allen has reminders around her Albuquerque home of the 28 days she spent as a paramedic near where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

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“This pin was from the president of the United States,” Allen stated. She had just wrapped up an overnight shift at an Albuquerque hospital on Sept. 11, 2001, when the world changed. “I was working in the emergency room downtown off of Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue and the news came on,” she explained.

At the time, she was also a paramedic for a disaster medical assistance team that gets called to help when needed around the country. She got a call just hours after the terrorist attacks.

“Asking me when and if the airspace was cleared to fly if I would be available to head to New York and I didn’t even hesitate,” she said.

She says she arrived at Ground Zero by Sept. 26 along with 33 other New Mexico doctors, nurses, suture techs, and others to help many people recover for nearly a month. “Whether it was cardiac monitoring, whether it was starting IVs, whether it was suturing,” she stated. “My heart felt like somebody had just, like, squeezed it really tight.”

And on this 20th anniversary of that dark time, she said she remembers the heroism that came out of the ashes. “Never be afraid to reach out and help someone that needs help or you think that might need help,” she said.