In an appropriate break with the tradition of boisterous and high energy opening ceremonies, the ASIS International 57th Annual Seminar and Exhibits kicked off with a reflective and somber review of the events of 9-11, including tributes to the ASIS members who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
The videos included a section on each member: Douglas G. Karpiloff, CPP; James Corrigan; John P. O’Neil; Ronald G. Hoerner; Howard Kirschbaum; and Richard Riscorla.
After the videos, ASIS President Raymond T. O’Hara, CPP, introduced a special speaker, a fire chief who survived the collapse of the towers: Fire Department of New York Chief Richard Picciotto. The chief recounted his tale of survival after a narrow and nearly miraculous escape.
Picciotto said that he arrived on the scene to find both towers engulfed in heavy black smoke and hearing the horrible thuds of jumpers hitting the ground. He climbed as high as the 35th floor of the North Tower when he heard the terrible sound of the South Tower collapsing. The chief immediately made the call to get everyone, including the first responders, out of the building, recognizing that if the North Tower had fallen, the South Tower was soon to follow. His appropriate assessment of the risk saved the lives of hundreds of people.
Picciotto was in the one remaining unblocked stairwell of the South Tower when the building gave way. He and 13 others were saved when this tiny sliver of the structure remained standing. After several long hours, the survivors managed to find a way out through the rubble.
After Picciotto concluded his story and the ceremony ended, attendees met the ASIS Board of Directors, ASIS past presidents, Host Chapter Seminar Committee Chair Dave Bareno, CPP, and Greater Orlando Chapter Chair Dave Murray. Cutting the ribbon to the exhibit hall, O’Hara proclaimed: “What awaits you beyond this ribbon is a cornucopia of ideas, concepts, products, and services that prove the focus of this event is security. The exhibition is exciting, pioneering, and must be seen to be believed.”