204: The Long Shadow: What if you fought the fire?

“You try not to think about the fact that you really think you’re going to die here…that it’s totally out of control.”


Producers: Whit Missildine, Andrew Waits

Episode Summary: On September 11th, 2001, the first female firefighter in the New York City Fire Department confronts the impossible tasks of that day and the skewed narratives that followed.

Today's episode featured Captain (ret.) Brenda Berkman. Since her retirement from the New York City Fire Department in 2006, Brenda serves as a volunteer guide at the 9/11 Memorial, is Vice-President for Programs for the women’s history organization Monumental Women (monumentalwomen.org) and pursues her passion for printmaking, specializing in stone lithography. You can see her artwork at www.brendaberkmanartworks.com.

Twenty Years after the attacks of September 11th changed the world as we knew it, this month the This Is Actually Happening podcast dives deep into the stories of four survivors whose jobs brought them face to face with the unthinkable. For those called to manage an impossible tragedy up close, the events of September 11th represented a uniquely horrifying challenge. Among the harrowing details of that day, in the special series, we explore the long shadows of trauma and resilience that continue to inform the looming uncertainties that remain with us today.


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Content/Trigger Warnings: terrorism, death, graphic violence, explicit language


Intro Music: "Illabye" – Tipper

Music and Sound Design by: Marcelino Villalpando



If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma or mental illness, please refer to the following resources.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264

National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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