Charlotte Taylor

Charlotte Taylor

Assistant Vice President for Integrated Labs
MedStar Health
Start Date: 1969

ONLY TWO UNITS BUSY ON 9-11

I was administrative director for the 13 departments that make up MedStar Washington Hospital Center's "Laboratory" on the morning of September 11, 2001, when one of the pathologists yelled for me to get to the nearest TV. It was sheer pandemonium as everyone scrambled to find out what was going on, what might be next, and to locate friends and loved ones. The hospital went into high gear to get ready for the expected influx of Pentagon casualties. We weren't prepared for what happened next.

As word of the tragedy spread, people began to show up in droves at the Blood Bank. Moved to action, to do anything they could to help, they assumed a big supply of blood would be needed to treat the wounded.

We were overwhelmed, but so grateful for the community's response that we didn't have the heart to turn anyone away. We recruited every available lab employee who had ever drawn blood to pitch in, after a hasty re-training on procedures. Sometime after midnight, sheer exhaustion finally forced us to close the doors and turn the remaining donors away. They returned the next morning.

Of course, as everyone knows, very few victims survived. While the entire hospital was on red alert, only two areas were actually affected - the Burn Unit, frantically working to save the survivors, and the Blood Bank, busy serving those who wanted to help.