In Defense of Scott Shields
My name is Joseph Hudak. I am a FDNY Paramedic Instructor, forty-four years of age. For the last eight years, I was an instructor at the FDNY Academy training FDNY Paramedics and Firefighters. If you were in FDNY, you went through one of my courses.
I continue to teach at the Academy. I am also part of the FDNY competition team that represents both FDNY and the United States in both domestic and international EMS competitions.
No amount of money in the world could explain the gratification of saving a human life. Our profession is unique and for me to be a member of FDNY's paramedics has been an incredible experience.
As a rescue worker, an officer and a health care professional in FDNY is a reward in itself. Anyone in this field of rescuing others does not do it for the money. We do this because of the personal satisfaction and knowledge that your life has made a difference for other people. That your time spent on this small blue marble spinning in space we call home may have changed things.
If anyone ever fit this description, it is my good friend Scott Shields. Over the last eight years I have watched his sacrifice and good deeds do much for both this city and my country. I have also watched as he agreed to testify in Congress about the cover-up's of hazardous materials by high ranking NY politicians with Presidential ambitions. I have been with Scott in two of our nation's worst moments and watched his training, knowledge and skills make a difference that few are ever privileged to give. He has played a key role in two of our nation's darkest moments. For this reason I have decided to help in clearing his name which many who know the truth are scared to do after what happened to him.
On Sept 11, 2001 we witnessed the horrific explosion as the first plane hit the Towers. A short while later I was to witness the second strike.
I was to stay there working on the Pile the next three days.
I first saw Scott and his dog Bear on September 11th 2001 on the site of the World Trade Center collapse.
His Golden Retriever made an alert on a body under a fifty foot mound of rubble that turned out to be the decapitated remains of one of our own, Chief of Department Peter Ganci. Along with Firefighters TJ Mundy, Jean Paul Augier (who went on to make one of the few live rescues of the day) and later Firefighter Tommy Burke (from Squad 252) who was with Scott when Bear found FDNY Commissioner William Feehan. Hundreds of FDNY personnel watched Scott and Bear work for days.
For days firefighters relied on Bear and Scott. That first day they were the only K-9 team any of us saw on the site. I was to watch them work the next three days. The FEMA dogs were not trained to do 'cadaver work' and Bear was invaluable. He led the way!
I was to see this man Scott and his golden retriever make many more finds those days. In November, I attended a memorial service held at the Beacon theatre on the Westside. The thousands of Firefighters who were in the audience recognized him and his dog Bear. They had meant a lot to us and people had actually argued over getting their services on the site. Bear was lifted onto the stage to thundering applause and cheering of hundreds who had witnessed what this dog had done.
It was to be the beginning of a bond of friendship that only war or disaster can bring to life. Little did I realize then, that four years later I would be once again going to another hell much better equipped and able to make a huge difference both because of, and with Scott Shields.
After that night, I began both a friendship and a professional relationship with Scott. As time passed, I began to realize how special this man really was. He was responsible for safety for many of the events in New York harbor and slowly we began to both provide services and training for his Marine Safety Service (later part of the search and rescue foundation).
Scott was always eager to assist others and to tell the truth about what had happened at the WTC so it would not happen again (Katrina was a direct result of not telling the truth about WTC)! His real love was the Dogs and the water and somehow he combined them both into his 'career' as a rescuer.
Scott decided after the WTC to help other rescuers. People do not realize the sacrifices made by these mostly volunteer teams. Scott began to be fed up with a system that even after the WTC did not seem to prioritize rescue. Funding seemed to be going everywhere else but Search and Rescue. Almost a year to the date of the WTC Bear, his search dog, best friend and partner lost a battle with more than a dozen types of cancer that started in a wound he had got at the WTC. I decided to make sure that this dog who led us would be honored for what he had done at the WTC assisting FDNY. There is a memorial to Bear at the FDNY/EMS Academy at Ft. Totten that I helped authorize and build.
I guess Scott felt guilty for bringing what he loved most into that deadly place. A big part of Scott died that day. I think he swore to himself that this would not be one more death that went on to mean nothing. Scott, never had children and he treated and referred to his dog Bear as his 'son'. It may sound a little crazy, but there are no FDNY firefighters who would begrudge that relationship. They were always there for us on the pile and they were that close. Scott decided to dedicate his life to helping, not just the victims of disaster, but also those who would rescue them. He redoubled his efforts after Bear's death. He was angry at the cover-ups we all saw at the WTC. He decided to turn this tragedy into an opportunity to change things.
For us, the term brother is one whom you know with certainty will sacrifice his life for yours; I am proud to call Scott "Brother". There is no higher calling then to be a rescuer. Being a rescuer is the highest calling. I have watched Scott over the last nine years and know him to be in his heart of hearts one of our nation's most dedicated 'rescuers'.
I have participated in numerous rescues in New York harbor with Scott (on one occasion making 7 Kayaker rescues during one event, then responding to the Staten Island Ferry disaster after already putting in a twelve hour day). I read a story on the internet of that day by one of Scott's detractors, it was as far from the truth as reality could get.
In 2005 two months after assisting Scott in teaching (I taught the medical component) one of the nation's largest mass casualty water rescue trainings (that year's course organized by Scott was entitled "Responding to the Five Hundred Year Flood"). Scott arranged instructors to teach from a dozen Federal, State and City agencies in New York. He got Zodiac Boats to sponsor the event and sixty days later, they gave Scott more than 20 boats and five personnel to help maintain them in NOLA. Scott got other companies to loan or give equipment for the response to Katrina because of the training he has conducted through the years.
Scott got Sid Baumgarten head of Battery Park CERT (NYNG General, former NYC DA, and former deputy Mayor of New York to deploy his team through the foundation, and they, and other teams Scott led coxswain the inflatable boats (the same boats used for the training in NY two months earlier) for the 82nd Airborne's response in NOLA. Scott has been told this never happened! On the internet you can read how it never happened. I was there, it did! There are picture and national networks video coverage.
One of the companies Walker Bay Boats donated a hundred dinghies that Scott eventually donated to the USCGA and other charities. I have participated as lead medical officer in his marine safety training courses, multiple world-class kayak, boat, outrigger canoe and swim races he led for NYC Parks SAR Team in the waters surrounding NYC. At these courses, I have learned shipboard repelling, mass casualty rescue, knot tying and other marine oriented rescue techniques at these classes. I loved the training. It was out of the box and different then what we get in the Dept. It was very 'real world oriented' and not available from any organization I know of. Most fire department water rescue training is oriented towards rescue in swift water of a few people in a vehicle, Scott's courses where about what to do when the "Big One' strikes. Scott really pioneered mass casualty water rescue (for a Katrina like event). He had talked about it happening in the New York area for years and had prepared plans for a response in the City. He was always a critic of FEMA long before it became fashionable.
Scott's led five volunteer teams (associated with the Foundation) and helped deploy a dozen others in response to hurricane Katrina. They were authorized by Gov. Blanco otherwise we never could have gotten through the roadblock for only authorized teams. The FBI has also verified the deployment letter was sent from the Governor's office (despite what you read on the internet).The teams he led down to Louisiana were assigned to the 82nd Airborne's 3rd Brigade in New Orleans Louisiana. They (the Airborne) made just over a thousand actual rescues and 4000 transports of victims. Many of these carried out with our boat teams. We rescued over 1000 animals which Scott helped arrange transport to Battery Park City in New York through Gen. Sidney Baumgarten (his BPC CERT team had taken Scott's training and deployed with Scott through the Bear Search and Rescue Foundation to NOLA). Gen. Baumgarten arranged for their adoption from people who lived in the neighborhood of the WTC. He is also a former Deputy Mayor of New York and lawyer who could give you more illumination on the 'truth'. The amazing thing is no one ever checked up on those who created these web sites and contact e-mails to see who they where!
I was honored to respond to Hurricane Katrina through Scott's team. Almost thirty tri state agencies (including New Jersey Task Force 1 and the Jersey City FD) had taken Scott's mass casualty water training course ( entitled: 'Responding to the Five Hundred Year Flood') only sixty days earlier and most of them responded much better prepared and equipped to the Gulf Coast because of this. To all of us it seemed prophetic.
Many teams from around the country that had received grants or training from the Foundation and Scott responded to Hurricane Katrina under orders from Gov. Blanco authorizing Scott to deploy teams. those who say otherwise have not checked, just quoted from the web or those out to change our history.
I would like to make a very strong point. I have seen with my own eyes what Scott has accomplished. He has written about our emergency management system and spoken about what would happen at a Katrina like event years before it happened. He has testified in Congress and around the country. I have seen Scott in action for almost a decade. He has made the life safety of the American people his life's priority. His 'cause' was to be accomplished at any price, even at the expense of his family. He is a caring, giving human being who has always gone beyond the call of duty (I have seen him work injured himself). He is a rescue worker who has gone well beyond the call of duty and what most would do to help others.
I lost a lot of close personal friends on 9/11 (Tom Foley, Charlie Mone, George Cain, Carlos Cites, my ex-partner Kevin Peifer and more). Bear is included on that wall of heroes. It was to honor their memory and efforts that we built a wall at the Fire Academy. On Sept. 11th 2003 Scott was asked to be a guest speaker at the memorial ceremony at Fort Totten. He gave a beautiful reading of a poem he had written for Bear and all who serve so that others may live. There was not a dry eye or an untouched heart. His loss, was our loss and we all shared in that emptiness and pride in our work.
Scott has always been there for me. He constantly asks my opinions on how to better organize our rescue services and responses to disaster. He is a bottom up idea organizer. I have seen over and over the hard work and dedication (all the time through pain of his injuries from 9/11). He would do anything to keep people alive and safe. There are too many things he has done to even list and yet remain with a brief statement on my friend Scott. He has contributed more than most.
None of us are perfect. We all have weaknesses, or doubts. We contend with our faults and go on. I can honestly say I have never in my life met someone who has done so much for others. Not just civilians or the injured, but for assisting the so often overlooked rescue workers. No one could ever bring all he has done into context. In the world of rescue I deal in, I hear nothing but praise for Scott. Scott has been honored by having days in his name from the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Even Dr Jane Goodall did a show on Animal Planet about Scott and Bear. The history Channel has honored them and Channel Thirteen in New York did a few pieces on them.
On September 17, 2005 The Secretary of Transportation Norman Manetta, honored him with a medal for organizing the harbor shuttle into the WTC's North Cove. He arranged for units to be transported by water with the USCG and arrive whole and rested inside the WTC area instead of having to march down the gridlocked West Side Highway with all their heavy gear. Sometimes, it seemed as if Scott was everywhere. He had an amazing talent for organizing a disaster. Like many volunteer firefighters, he does not take money for arranging help for others.
The work he has done has made a difference. We are a better country for having had use of his services. I cannot count how many are alive today, and brought home to their loved ones because of him. Many of us want our lives to have made a difference. Scott has, over and over again. I stand beside him and all that he has done good for others. I look up to him as a professional, caring individual who does the job because he loves to.
I am well known in the field of EMS and in the New York City Fire Dept.; those who know me, know my reputation as one of the lead Medics in the Dept. and of honesty, fairness as a top ranked professional who takes my job and my honor seriously. I love my job and my profession. I love this man Scott Shields for all I have seen him do for others. I have been at his side in the two worst domestic disasters in modern history. I have watched as he has accomplished great things, only in the name of doing good and placing the life safety of people first and above everything. I can think of few whom I would want to go to hell with again. Scott is one of those.
I am happy to help tell the true story of Scott and Bear. It is an amazing story that I and many other firefighters have seen firsthand and have been honored to participate in.
In November of 2008 a man by the name of Phil Porteus (who owns the websites against Scott) was convicted of computer fraud, bank fraud and various other crimes against Scott in Federal Court in Newark N.J. Mr Porteus had also been removed from the USCGA for creating fraudulent documents. He had was also at the center of a similar campaign against the former head of the 'Childrens Protective Service' in New York Chief Burt Borkin.
Mr Porteus also had the highest number of pending charges against him of any firefighter from the FDNY Fire Marshalls office. He was known to have tortured "probies" (probationary firefighters) and to have poured gasoline on other firefighters bunker gear as well as stealing personal rescue gear from those he did not like.
What many do not understand is that Scott could not afford to defend himself and those appointed to do so did not give a damn about the truth. They were to lazy to even pick up a phone and call anyone who had ever worked with Scott
There is more to Porteus's background then the authorities are willing to admit. There is much more to Capt. Shields being charged with taking money for an apartment then anyone will ever know. He was an outspoken critic of FEMA (where the charges originate) long before Katrina and often lectured how FEMA covering up what happened at the WTC would lead to a Katrina like event. Porteus claims his actions against Scott was caused by PTSD; I would guess some other more nefarious motive. I have seen the name on his second mortgage, funny it is the same as whom Scott was asked totestify against in Congress. Porteus has a long history that goes far beyond his accusations against Scott and an ethical and moral problem that has ruined many who have come in contact with him.
Interestingly, Scott is not charged with any of the puff stories from Mr Porteus was able to get into the newspapers after three years, about Scott not being here or there, or his dog finding nothing (I witnessed quite the opposite with my own two eyes and so have hundreds of others). Anyone who claims otherwise is an outright liar!
That the Web could be used for so much evil is an unspeakable horror. That reporters would quote from it with so much zeal without fact checking speaks ill of their profession. At the time the Post was quoting from Mr Porteus as a "reliable source" he had pled in Federal court to computer fraud, bank fraud and various charges. Scott could not afford a lawyer to defend his good name (they wanted $50,000 just to start). That someone who has done so much good could be reduced to phony stories copied from one reporter to another, all starting with Mr. Porteus's website and his cronies (who often pretended to be other people) says nothing good about this new electronic society. Mr Porteus is now a convicted felon serving a three year sentence!
FEMA often in the past placed 'rescue & recovery' workers under 'refugee status' to pay for their housing (see Google "CNN No room at the INN"). Mr. Shields is a victim of being one of the very few good guys who will speak and write the truth at any price to his own personal safety or honor. Funny, the three pages that stated why he was given the 'housing allowance' are missing from Mr. Shields FEMA file. His prosecutor admitted there were three pages missing, just not what was in them. How could she know if they were removed on purpose!
Those who speak ill of Scott are just quoting from a very inaccurate websites and people who were hired to do so, sponsored by forces other then what they appear to be. Do you actually know whom any of these people are? Have you verified that they even knew Mr Shields? Or are they just words and letters on the internet claiming things you assume to be true? Those who quote from, or believe them are fools.
Prior to ever having been accused of anything Scott was in a Federal Victims of Crime program to protect him from Phil Porteus and his cohorts for three years. After having the government indict him on information supplied by Mr Porteus, Scott just gave up fighting for the truth. He was in shock and could get no assistance to continue the fight. Who could blame him. The real question is, who and what was behind this internet fraud and how did the FEMA IG's office get involved in forging our nation's history. They have said that Scott's teams did not coxswain the boats for the 82nd Airborne Division at Katrina; I was there, I coxswain one of those boats, we had national news crews with us, there were a hundred troopers who worked with us, yet, one bad FEMA IG made a claims and accusations that were taken as gospel (he was not even there) and a phony case against Scott.
Anyone doing the slightest real investigation of the FEMA agent's charges against Scott would find outright lies and creative interpretation of facts. Porteus is only a tool in some greater mechanism. Time and serious investigation will tell the truth about what really happened to Scott Shields.
Please feel free to contact me as someone must put an end to this conspiracy to destroy the credibility of a very, very good man.
For more FDNY personnel discussing the real truth about Scott & Bear go to:
Very truly yours,
Joseph Hudak FDNY
New York Post
A self-proclaimed "9/11 hero" who concocted tales of rescuing victims with his golden retriever is being sued by the feds for more than $35,000 in relief funds he scammed from FEMA.
A lawsuit filed yesterday by the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan accuses Scott Shields and his sister, Patricia, of falsely claiming to need the money for rent on a Rector Street apartment while living in Greenwich, Conn.
The feds are asking for three times the stolen amount plus $11,000 for each of three bogus filings. Both siblings pleaded guilty to fraud, were sentenced to eight months behind bars, and are now waiting to report to prison.
Scott Shields, 57, won accolades after claiming he and his now-deceased dog, Bear, made "the only live finds" at Ground Zero. He repeated the lie in a self-published 2003 book titled "Bear, Heart of a Hero."
The Post exposed his lies in a 2006 exclusive that also revealed he filed for bankruptcy protection four months before 9/11
Please send your comments, news tips and press releases to GreenwichRoundup@gmail.com