NY Post - June 06, 2018by Aaron Feis and Tina Moore
As their truck rumbled down West Street on Halloween 2017, six members of FDNY Squad 18 thought that they were on their way to a school bus crash at Chambers Street.
“Once we came upon Houston Street, we started to see some commotion on the bike path,” said Firefighter Brian Roberts, behind the wheel that day. “At that moment, we realized that we were no longer to continue to West and Chambers.”
The six responders had found themselves at the northern tip of Sayfullo Saipov’s alleged terrorist rampage that killed eight people when the Uzbek immigrant sped down 17 blocks of a popular lower Manhattan bike path in a rented truck.
The half-dozen members raced into action, triaging victims along the blood-soaked bike path — bravery for which they will be honored at the FDNY’s Medal Day Ceremony on Wednesday.
“Over to the side of the rig, I saw a couple of people with bicycles sitting on the ground. Then I saw a plainclothes cop waving his hands frantically,” Lt. Adrienne Walsh, 51, recalled to The Post on the eve of the ceremony. “There were bodies strewn everywhere.”
“One person was getting CPR from a civilian. I’ll never know who she was,” said Walsh, a 21-year veteran. “I started to go down and assess people and make sure everyone had somebody.”
Firefighter Richard Naviasky, 47, helped Walsh tend to the victims, but the six-person squad could only do so much given the magnitude of the tragedy.
“We took in the scene and saw the spread of injuries going all the way up the bike path,” said Naviasky. “We saw that we had more victims than we had manpower to cover it.”
Roberts, 46, radioed FDNY dispatch for backup, trying to take the scene in stride.
“It’s another day at the office for us, so to speak. I had to turn my emotions off in order to work,” Roberts said.
“We’re trying to hold people together with what we had,” said Walsh. “I could see down where the first group [of victims] was, but I didn’t realize how far it went.”
Seventeen blocks south, Saipov, 29, had crashed his rented Home Depot flatbed into a school bus at West and Chambers — the collision for which Squad 18 was initially called.
Saipov jumped out of his truck, clutching pellet and paintball guns, and screaming, “Allahu Akbar,” according to police sources.
He was shot, disarmed, and arrested by an NYPD cop, putting a stop to the bloodshed.
All told, the spree left eight dead, and wounded 11 more.
The 29-year-old accused lone wolf terrorist is now facing a slew of charges in Manhattan federal court — including nine that carry either the death penalty or life behind bars on conviction.
But on Wednesday, the FDNY will celebrate the six responders from Squad 18 that helped saved lives.
“It’s a very humbling experience. We were just doing what we were supposed to do that day,” said Walsh. “We did what we could.”