16:36 GMT08 March 2021
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    Most of the rescues at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 were carried out before professional firefighting and emergency rescue services arrived on the scene, former US Navy captain William Toti told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On September 11, 2001, hijackers from the al-Qaeda terrorist group crashed three airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth airplane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the passengers tried to take back control of the plane from the terrorist hijackers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed and another 6,000 were injured in the attacks.

    "The part of the story that has not been told, really, is that all of the rescues, to the extent that rescues occurred, all happened before the professional rescuers arrived on scene and that most of the rescues were done by people who worked in the Pentagon or firefighters and policemen who happened to be on hand," Toti said.

    Toti, the former commander of the submarine USS Indianapolis, was working in the Pentagon on 9/11.

    "For us it was thirty minutes or more before professional rescuers showed up in force and by that time those that were going to survive or be rescued were rescued, " Toti added.

    Fifteen years later, the attempt of integrating the many US federal, state and local agencies that are responsible for protecting the country remains a good one but has been hampered by the competing interests and cultures of the agencies, Toti noted.

    "I think we are still going through the journey of optimizing the structure and in many ways the agencies are still like the Bar Scene from the first Star Wars: There are a lot of different characters and stovepipes," Toti claimed.

    "I worry that it will take another catastrophic event to get the nation’s attention to finally get it done right," Toti said. "I think this [9/11] is a lesson that I’m not confident has been appropriately learned."

    Toti was also the Assistant Chief of Staff for Warfare Requirements to the Commander, Naval Submarine Forces, and was a member of the Deep Blue team, formed after the 9/11 attacks to explore innovations in special operations and anti-terror warfare.


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