Melissa Doi, 32, was a manager at IQ Financial Systems on the 83rd floor of the South Tower, the second impacted. The plane sliced through swaths of floors 77-85. With Doi’s offices so near the strike zone, it didn’t take long for the situation to deteriorate into desperation.
She called in the emergency (the number, ironically, is 9-1-1) at 9:17am, just 14 minutes after the plane slammed into her building. “The floor is completely engulfed and we can’t breathe,” she says, hyperventilating, “and it’s very, very, very hot.”
Doi’s call further showcases the futility of the dispatchers, who were left to placate the panicked and make dubious-at-best promises of help en route. But in addition to being unconvincing, Doi’s dispatcher makes a mistake that can only be described as detached and dumb. After Doi states several times that she can’t see around her, the dispatcher stupidly says “but there’s no smoke, right?”
“OF COURSE THERE’S SMOKE!” Doi shouts. Then, a few seconds later, “I don’t see any air anymore!”
Then, the question anyone in Doi’s situation would ask: “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” The dispatcher’s response was a heartbreaking hedge. “No, no, no, no…,” she denies, followed quickly by a thoroughly unassuring “ma’am, say your prayers.” Doi lost her life that day.