The words “never forget” penned their ways into the memories of all who remember the World Trade Center attacks 20 years ago. This rings true for one local nurse who worked at Duncan Regional Hospital in September 2001.
Wendy Steward, LPN at DRH, worked the night shift and was a member of the Oklahoma DMAT Team when she responded to the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001.
In her career, Steward joined alongside other disaster teams responding to catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina, as well as working on-site on the scene of 9/11 in New York City.
She was apart of the Duncan community and a DRH team member for many years between August 1992 and December 2014. Now, she resides in Houston, Texas. According to Steward, she commuted for 10 years from Houston back to Duncan, weekly.
“I loved my job in the ED,” Steward said.
Even though her job ended there, Steward said she “misses it tremendously.”
Steward said her involvement with OK1-DMAT was as a disaster medical assistance team through NDMS/FEMA.
“Teams were deployed to be the on-site medical in two tents at Ground Zero,” Steward said. “Teams remained there until all recovery and clean up were completed.”
Steward said she was honored to give her service during such a devastating time.
“The iron/crane workers were the true heroes, in my opinion,” Steward said. “They worked night and day, seeing tragedy exposed up close and personal. I have great admiration for the many people who worked that site — and the other sites — while their souls were being scarred as well.”
Patty Wininger, Ward 3 City Councilwoman and a retired nurse, said Steward was a “true patient advocate and a dedicated professional.”
“Her strength and compassion for everyone was evident by her volunteer work with the OK Disaster Management Team,” Wininger said. “She was a tireless health care provider when her country needed her the most.”
According to Wininger, Steward’s team approach and excellent health care knowledge and expertise were in high demand.
“I was honored to have served with her and to call her a fellow nurse, co-worker and friend,” Wininger said.
Steward said the anniversary has always been very difficult for her over the course of the years.
“It brought the memories, the pain, the empathy and the feelings of helplessness right back and placed them all back in those scars of the soul we all bare,” Steward said. “Then, the Lord and my daughter gave me a grandson on that very day, making it a joyous day on the calendars once again.”
Steward said this anniversary would bring a variety of mixed emotions for her and she would love to attend the 20th anniversary on-site, but she will instead celebrate her grandson’s birthday in true disney-style surrounded by loved ones.
“My prayers and blessings to everyone during this milestone, tragic anniversary,” Steward said. “9/11 touched each and every human being everywhere. We truly will never forget.”