In a strange way it all started on September 11th, 2001. My office is in Bayonne, NJ, just across the river from Manhattan. I was on the NJ Turnpike, crossing the Newark Bay bridge at 8:46 AM when the first plane hit the North Tower. I saw it happen in front of my eyes. By the time I had reached my office, I saw the second plane hit the South Tower at 9:03 on the office TV. Then the screen went blank. I told my staff that we were at war. Later on that morning  I climbed the four stories of the office building across the street. I watched in total horror and total silence as the North Tower crumbled.

I was overcome not only with utter devastation of what I had witnessed but also a complete helplessness. I remember how ironically quiet it was except for the F-16's and the helicopters streaking across the sky. I was mad, I was depressed, and I was worried, but there seemed to be nothing I could do.

The radio in our office was still available and working. There was a report that a makeshift morgue was being set up in Bayonne since lower Manhattan was in chaos. I decided to call Dr. Howard Glazer, an old friend, because I knew he was a deputy medical examiner for the Medical Examiner's Office in New York. He told me the report was not true and then he said, "But we need help, get your butt over here."

I was able to get into Manhattan the next morning. It was a difficult and heartbreaking trip. I was then on the Dental Identification team at OCME (Office of the Chief Medical Examiner) for the next nine months. What I saw and what I learned was a life altering experience but that is another story for another time. I took away many things from the experience, but one thing I learned was there were good and important things I could do with my professional skills outside of my office or my academic experience.

Even though I had learned a lot during this experience I also realized that forensics had a depressing effect on me. I accepted the autopsies and examinations as part of what I had volunteered to do, but the pain of all of those families having been ripped apart, stayed with me. I knew that forensics was not for me.

I decided to join the Donated Dental Services program. I am still a volunteer and usually have at least one ongoing patient in this program. If you are not familiar with DDS, you should inquire. You are able to help a very appreciative person who already has been documented with a need for your care. You have complete control over the person's dental care and even whether you accept that person for treatment. If you want to do something for others and don't have the time or ability to do some type of outreach, then the DDS program is something you can easily fit into your professional life.

I did and still do get a lot of satisfaction from these DDS patients. I realized the boost I received from the smiles and thank you's of the DDS patients but somehow I also knew that I needed to do more.

Next..... The next step