Yamel Josefina Merino was just 24 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, but she had already earned accolades and respect for her work as a first responder. Merino lived in Yonkers with her young son, Kevin, and enjoyed spending time with her parents and four siblings. After giving birth to her son, she earned her GED, and took a job with MetroCare Ambulance in 1998. She quickly endeared herself to her colleagues with her positive attitude and compassion for others.
Merino rose through the ranks, receiving her Emergency Medical Technician certification from Westchester Community College and working her way from the transport division to the 9-1-1 division, where she provided lifesaving care to people in need across the New York City area. In 1999, she was named MetroCare’s EMT of the Year. She hoped to continue her path in the profession by studying to become a nurse.
Merino was one of the first emergency responders to arrive at the World Trade Center site on 9/11, and she volunteered to approach the towers while her partner stayed behind with their ambulance. She was providing aid to evacuees outside the South Tower when it collapsed. After her death, she was honored as New York State’s EMT of the Year.
By Kirsten Madsen, Assistant Manager of Memorial Exhibition, 9/11 Memorial Museum