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Profile: Hermina Jones
Hermina Jones was a participant or observer in the following events:
Douglas Karpiloff. [Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey]A command center for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, located in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, is upgraded to make it more secure, and the improvements will reportedly save the lives of people in the command center when the nearby South Tower collapses on September 11. [Newsday, 9/12/2001; Civil Air Patrol News, 1/2002; Newsday, 1/23/2002] The Port Authority’s Security Command Center (SCC) is on the 22nd floor of the North Tower. [9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 ; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 294] Newsday will report, on the day after 9/11, that officials had “recently” increased security at the WTC “by installing bulletproof windows and fireproof doors in the 22nd-floor computer command center.” [Newsday, 9/12/2001] According to George Tabeek, the Port Authority’s security manager for the WTC, by September 11, the WTC in fact has “bulletproof window glass in most areas.” [FDU Magazine, 6/2008] The installation of the bulletproof windows—and presumably, also, the fireproof doors—in the SCC is made at the request of Douglas Karpiloff, the Port Authority’s director of security and life safety for the WTC. [Newsday, 1/23/2002]
Upgrades Intended to Protect against 'Aerial Attacks' - According to Hermina Jones, a security guard at the WTC, the upgrades to the SCC are intended “to secure the towers against aerial attacks.” [Newsday, 9/12/2001] Tabeek will later recall, “We had planned for the possibility of a small airplane—a corporate jet, maybe—crashing into one of the [WTC] buildings by accident,” although it is unclear if this comment is made in reference to the installation of bulletproof windows at the WTC. [FDU Magazine, 6/2008]
Security Improvements Save Lives on September 11 - Some people will credit the upgrades to the SCC with saving their lives on September 11. Tabeek will be in the SCC that day when the first of the Twin Towers—the South Tower—collapses (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). When that happens, according to Tabeek, the “impact of the explosion peeled off the outer skin of [the North Tower], shattering the thick double-paned windows [of the SCC] in the process.” Tabeek will say, however, that the “inner layer of laminated bulletproof glass put in months earlier… withstood the blast and undoubtedly saved his life and those of the others with him.” Victor Guarnera, the chief technical adviser and manager of security systems for the World Trade Department, who is also in the SCC at that time, will describe what happens when the collapse occurs, saying, “The outer windows [of the SCC] exploded, either from impact [of debris from the South Tower] or differential pressure, but the inner window wall of high-tempered bomb and bullet-resistant glass we had installed a few months before held fast.” Guarnera will comment that the bulletproof windows “were responsible for our survival up to that point.” [Civil Air Patrol News, 1/2002; Newsday, 1/23/2002]
An automated announcement is reportedly activated in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, advising workers to stay in their offices rather than evacuate, although a senior official will later dispute the accounts of security officers who describe hearing it. The announcement is heard by workers in the Port Authority’s Security Command Center (SCC) on the 22nd floor of the North Tower.
Automated Announcement Heard by 'a Lot of People' - The recorded female voice that makes the announcement usually comes on automatically in situations such as when a sprinkler is loose, telling people to return to their offices, according to Hermina Jones, a security guard in the SCC. Jones will recall that the automated recording now comes on, apparently after being activated by the impact of Flight 11 hitting the North Tower. She will say that “a lot of people listened to that and went back to their offices. When tenants called me on the intercom, I told them to ignore it and take Stairway A.” Jones will add, “You could hear [the recording] in the background, telling them over and over, ‘Please go back in your office.’” Nancy Joyner, a security supervisor, also notices the recorded announcement. “Whenever there is smoke, sometimes the alarm will trigger, and that’s when you heard [the recording],” she will say. She will add, “That day [i.e. September 11], the recording came on.”
Port Authority Official Says There Are 'No Automated Announcements' - However, Alan Reiss, the director of the World Trade Department of the Port Authority, will dispute the recollections of Jones and Joyner, and claim that no recording goes off. He will state, “There were no automated announcements used anywhere in the World Trade Center, as such recordings are not permitted by fire codes.” Furthermore, Reiss will state, “no messages of any kind—live or otherwise—could be heard over [the North Tower’s] public address system, which was severed by the impact of the first plane.” [Newsday, 9/10/2002; Newsday, 10/8/2002] The 9/11 Commission Report will indicate, however, that announcements might be heard in a few areas of the North Tower. “Because of damage to building systems caused by the impact of the plane,” the report will state, “public address announcements were not heard in many locations.” Around the time that the automated announcement is reportedly going off in the North Tower, an announcement is made in the South Tower, advising workers to stay in their offices, instead of evacuating (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). That announcement, though, is made by a deputy fire safety director, rather than being a recorded message. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 286-288]
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