Milwaukee Area Technical College will celebrate and honor its Protective Services programs Sept. 11-13. A Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony was held at the Oak Creek Campus. The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, hosted by Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling of Southeast and Fox Valley Wisconsin, will be held Friday-Saturday, Sept. 12-13, also at the Oak Creek Campus.

For more information, visit:

You Tube video of Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony –
Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge information:

MATC protective services instructors have all served in the trenches as working police officers, firefighters and EMS workers. Many still do.

When terrorists hit the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, Jim Dailey was a police officer in Oak Creek. Randal Klaybor was a West Allis firefighter, who later served as a captain in the West Allis Fire Department. These two MATC instructors share their memories of Sept. 11 and their thoughts on how it changed their professions:


Who Doesn’t Remember Sept. 11, 2001?

By Jim Dailey, instructional chair
MATC Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement associate degree program

Almost everyone who is an adult today can tell a story about where they were and what they were doing on that tragic morning. My story involves a bit of irony. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was on the job as a patrol officer in the City of Oak Creek, Wis. My partner and I were assigned to the Emergency Response Unit for training that morning. The ERU team, commonly referred to as “SWAT,” was a voluntary group of officers within the police department that responded to a variety of high-risk calls.

One of my duties was to handle explosives. I was preparing explosive devices used to gain entry to doors and buildings for a training exercise planned for later in the day. My partner ran to a hardware store to pick up supplies. Ironically, I was building “bombs” when he returned about 15 or 20 minutes later and said, “An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center in New York.” I shrugged my shoulders and asked, “Like a Piper Cub? Was it an accident?” I didn’t comprehend what he was talking about nor could I imagine, at that time, such a horrific event. He said that he didn’t know but that it “might” be on the news. We went into our conference room and turned on the TV in time to see the second jet fly into the second tower.

At that time we looked at each other and said, “The world changed today.” Our jobs as police officers certainly did. We stood glued to the TV until the orders for our ERU team came down. The FAA and other authorities became very concerned about security at international airports, and Oak Creek bordered Mitchell International Airport. We were assigned patrols of the airport property, the right-of-ways, etc. It was a frantic day to say the least. We were not sure if the terrorist strikes were aimed at Milwaukee or not. Everyone, every vehicle, everything appeared suspicious to us. We were extremely on edge until it was determined that the threat for our area had passed.

There is no going back after Sept. 11. The world is different, police work is different, and our job duties are different. We now train our criminal justice students, police recruits and police officers at MATC in a variety of courses designed to identify potential terrorist activities. We teach a course titled “Contemporary Legal Issues,” which largely deals with legal issues surrounding law enforcement response to terrorism. The course emphasizes the balance between legal/civil rights and enforcing laws. Many of the laws passed since Sept. 11, 2001 are in direct response to preventing potential terrorist activities. But there is a delicate balance to maintain to avoid infringing on civil rights. We also teach law enforcement officers from numerous agencies the tactical response to terrorist activities. Much of the training is centered around response to active shooters or mass casualty incidents.

Law enforcement jobs have become much more difficult. The public is asking officers to do the impossible – use the laws as tools to stop the terrorists without infringing on anyone’s rights. That very thin (blue) line seems to get thinner all the time.


WAFD Station 2, Sept. 11, 2001

By Randal Klaybor, instructor
MATC Fire Protection Technician associate degree program

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the entire West Allis Fire Department (WAFD) administration gathered around the dayroom television watching something on the national news. When I came in from the Bureau of Maintenance and Repair, I asked what was going on. It appeared that a private plane lost control and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. We speculated that perhaps a pilot had a seizure, because we knew from EMS calls that seizures caused motor vehicle crashes. We were about to perform roll call, when everyone stopped in their tracks as we saw the second plane slam right into the second of the Twin Towers.

My mouth dropped open and a collective gasp sucked the air out of the room. Now we knew this could not be an accident. Looking back over my 30 years with the department, I realize that it was the only time the whole staff gathered there – chiefs, oncoming shift, and some off-going shift.
In those years, we had hard rolls at 9 a.m. I recall equipment operator Dan Kichner pounding his hand on the table and yelling, “It’s coming down!” He and I dropped what we were eating, pushed through the chairs in our way, and rushed toward the dayroom TV. The South Tower was collapsing slowly at first, and then speeding into a terrifying cloud of dust of what was New York City.

We were astonished. We knew the accepted fire service basic rule taught at MATC – you risk a lot to save savable lives.“Our guys” (firefighters) were still in there. We knew there had to be a lot of savable lives in that many floors that couldn’t get out without help… it would take hours… no elevators… people in wheel chairs… elderly and infirm… people disorientated or lost in smoke… all going down by the thousands before our eyes.

I recall it was quiet the rest of the day around the fire department. Even the sky was quiet. For the first time in my life, I realized that airplanes were an occasional, but constant, background – only because of their absence. There was a feeling around the firehouse that everyone was bracing for something else. There was a rumor in the afternoon of a possible truck bomb at the U.S. Supreme Court. That report turned out to be false, but our shift gathered again by the TV for national news.

I believe the events of Sept. 11 started a chain of economic hardship for this country and the world. Funding became tighter and we had less staff to handle more calls. We continually needed to find new ways to cover the maximum number of calls and jobs with diminishing resources. Technological advances helped us do more with less. Events like Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina encouraged increased cooperation between agencies of all sorts, reaching far beyond our neighboring communities. We learned that people in different agencies needed to talk the same language and help each other. EMS functions of the fire department grew as the public turned to us for advanced medical care on emergency calls.

These changes also affect MATC training. Technological advances are integrated into the curriculum of the Fire Technician Protection program. Due to increased emphasis on EMS, MATC will begin to offer a Paramedic Technician diploma program beginning in January 2015. There is also an increased emphasis on drilling for emergency situations, training exercises and physical fitness, such as the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, which will be held at the Oak Creek Campus Sept. 12-13.