Dr. Sean Cotter finds that he cannot keep away from the Spirit of New York, a leisure ship.
But the Spirit is not a Carnival Cruise ship, and Cotters view is not of palm trees. Instead, the ship is docked across from the mountain of rubble that was the World Trade Center.
Cotter is a doctor of chiropractic who works out of the Family Chiropractic Center in Flushing and Northern Astoria Chiropractic as well as at Northern Brooklyn Chiropractic. A resident of Nassau county, he is one of several chiropractors who give care aboard the Spirit to the hundreds of rescue workers and clean-up crews who toil in the remains of the Trade Center.
Its backbreaking work, said Cotter of the workers. Theyre not in need of medical care, theyre in need of muscular care.
Since the terrorist attack that ended in the collapse of the Twin Towers, Cotter has spent most of his spare time helping rescue and recovery workers, many of whom experience serious back pain after long hours moving tons of wreckage with their bare hands.
For Cotter, the desire to help out at the World Trade Center is more than just good will. He worked in Maspeth as a member of Hazardous Materials 1, the citys only hazardous materials fire company, for more than 10 years. The World Trade Center disaster hit Haz Mat 1 particularly hard.
They lost 12 from Haz Mat alone, said Cotter. And in the sister company, they lost seven. Some of my good friends were killed. I knew basically all of them.
Cotter wears his Fire Department shirt while working on the Spirit in order to be more approachable to the firemen whom he treats. He looks back on his time as a fireman with fondness.
I loved it, he said. Its a great job its just a very dangerous job.
Cotter is offering free chiropractic services at his clinics as well as to any rescue and recovery workers, survivors and families who lost loved ones. His colleague, John McAtamney, a doctor of chiropractic, is also participating in the free services.
Although he originally quit the Fire Department in order to spend more time with his wife and children, Cotter is debating returning in order to help with the Fire Departments manpower shortage.
At this point, Im considering going back, he said. They are hurting right now. They need people.
At the same time, Cotter now finds his work as a chiropractor more important than ever.
Its probably the most gratifying experience of my professional life, he said. You dont get phone calls, youre serving people. Its done a lot for me, personally and professionally. I have a better understanding of what I got into this profession for.
Cotter sees his volunteerism as a form of giving thanks to the firemen. He made his way through chiropractic school while working for the Fire Department. Many of the men who swapped tours with Cotter so he could go to class during the week are most likely lost in the rubble.
These guys who died, they put me through school, said Cotter. They worked day tours for me.
Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2001 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.