Book Review - 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
Based on a recommendation from my niece (who's just an avid of a reader as I am, *and* she works in a book store!), I got a copy of 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. This is a moving story of the 9/11 tragedy told from the point of view of those who were inside the buildings when it happened. It only took 102 minutes from the time of the first impact until the collapse of the second tower...
Dwyer and Flynn interviewed hundreds of people and pored over transcripts and records related to that fateful day. From that, they were able to piece together stories of those who survived and those who perished. A number of the people that are followed were able to find that slim escape path that led them past the devastation of the affected floors and out to the street level. Far too many others were trapped above the wreckage with no way out. Their phone calls and pleas for help leave you no choice but to feel the desperation and confusion they faced over what happened. What's sad is that many who died in the South Tower had the opportunity to evacuate the building and get away from potential danger. But the messages that were conveyed by officials were that *something* happened in the North Tower, but there was no danger to it's twin. The lack of caution and the feeling that business was more important meant that many ended up directly in the path of the second plane when it crashed into the South Tower. The authors also analyze the building code issues that contributed to the failure of the escape routes, as well as the mass confusion and lack of communication that caused the death of many firefighters and aid workers who weren't able to evacuate in time (even after the first South Tower collapse).
Reading a book like this caused me to look at my surroundings in a whole new light. Do I know where escape routes are in the building where I work? Do I know where *alternative* routes are if the main one is blocked? And more important, am I fit enough to be able to survive an escape attempt? If you work on the 3rd floor of a building, it's one thing. But to be on the 90th floor of a skyscraper, with no elevator access, and the likelihood of descending (and reascending) dozens of flights of stairs might be enough to put your life in jeopardy. Even more so if you're called upon to assist someone else during an evacuation. Makes you think about whether you should commit to using the stairs more rather than taking the lazy one-floor elevator trip.
This isn't an easy emotional read, as the people are real and many of them died. But it's important to understand what happened during their survival efforts. Building codes are there for a reason, and it's not to make more rentable space on each floor. Reading a book like this could mean the difference between living and dying should you find yourself in a similar and equally unexpected disaster scenario such as this.