9/11 Stories: NYPD Chief Terri Tobin

Terri Tobin was given the NYPD Medal Of Valor for the lives she saved on September 11th, despite suffering two serious injuries herself. Tobin was a Lieutenant in the NYPD public information office, already on her way from NYPD headquarters to The World Trade Center when the second tower was hit. The ground shook. Even growing up in the shadow of JFK airport, she never heard as loud a roar as she heard with the jet plowing into the tower. Seeing objects falling from the building. It took a few seconds to realize she was watching people jump. Tobin says, “Can you imagine being in that position where that (jumping) was the better choice ?!”

Terri Tobin will never forget what happened next. NYPD First Lieutenant Joe Dunne stopped her and directed her to get a kevlar helmet. Tobin says every year on the 9/11 anniversary, she thanks Dunne for saving her life.

Minutes later, after directing reporters to leave the South Tower, Tobin realized it would be a long day ahead so she left the building to collect her sneakers from her car. Seconds later, Tobin heard what she thought was an elevated train, but she knew that was crazy. There were no elevated trains anywhere near The World Trade Center. Next she heard people screaming, “Go, go, go. It’s coming down!” She heard the building pancaking down. With the dust cloud roaring, Lt. Tobin was blown out of her shoes, her body flying across the street to a grassy area, hit in the head with concrete. After her head was wrapped, she continued on the job, helping pull NYC firefighters who had rolled under their fire truck when the South Tower came down. During that rescue, the North Tower fell. This time the lieutenant was hit with a shard of glass, imbedded in her back. Even after her second injury, Tobin continued on, helping evacuate an apartment building, where she took refuge after being caught up in the second dust cloud. Remarkably, after surgery on her head and back, hours later, Tobin returned to The World Trade Center again.

Terro Tobin still works for the NYPD, recently promoted to Chief of Interagency Operations, joining only a handful of female NYPD Chiefs . Tobin says on 9/11, she was doing exactly what she was meant to do that day.

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