Dr. William Fabbri, Director of Operational Medicine, FBI
Dr. William Fabbri recalls responding to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 when he was medical physician working in a trauma center in Baltimore, Maryland and a member of the urban search and rescue program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
I think the aspect of that led in no small degree to my interest in joining the Bureau was the reaction that I had with dealing with this event and the reaction that many of the other team members, most of whom are firefighters had, after the shock of seeing the extent of the damages which was far greater than the television or the newspapers portrayed, the next reaction was anger.
And this was compounded by the realization that this was a homegrown, domestic incident. And without going into the details of the remains that we recovered—because to this day we like to avoid that—I do remember very clearly that the first time that our team was in that position of recovering remains there was a pause and then one of the firefighters commenting in very salty language, "Okay, let’s do this right. Let’s do this carefully." Basically the gist of what he said was, "Let’s make sure that whoever did this is brought to justice."
I spent a number of days in this environment rapidly transitioning between the impression that I really would have preferred to be somewhere else and then immediately thereafter realizing that I didn't want to be anywhere else and that this was probably this is one of the most important things that I've ever done in my career.
And recently reading some of the quotes in the news at the time, some which were quotes of me, I was struck by the fact that I was thinking in terms of that terrorism is a crime and it should be approached as such and we have all the armamentarium and all of the laws and all of the capabilities that we apply to murder. We should apply it to mass-murder. And the more I thought about this, the more I thought after a decade of fixing what people broke—and working at a trauma center, you do get a lot of experience with dealing with the victims of violent crime.
Now dealing with the aftermath of domestic terrorism, it began to occur to me, as it often does to physicians at a certain age, that preventing injury is in some ways a more important and a more interesting task then dealing with the aftermath. And when an opportunity came along to join the FBI, those thoughts were very much in my mind.
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