Ex-N.J. EMT removed from 9/11 memorial event after false Ground Zero claims
The former North Bergen and Jersey City Medical Center EMT was removed as a guest speaker from a Tenn. fundraiser following social media furor over his claims
By FireRescue1 Staff
UNION CITY, Tenn. — A former N.J. EMT was removed from a Sept. 11 memorial event where he was slated to be a guest speaker after an uproar on social media over his claim to have worked as an FDNY firefighter at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the terror attacks, New Jersey Local Today reported.
When August Johansen, 45, shared a photo of himself wearing a polo shirt with an FDNY patch to promote the speaking engagement, which was picked up by NYC FireWire, he was recognized by first responders who said Johansen was misrepresenting himself.
“I was one of several paramedics who called the Union City, Tenn., fire department,” a first responder with Hudson County, New Jersey, told the Daily Voice. “One of the other guys found the ‘advertisement’ for the 9/11 event online and he was like ‘Holy crap, that ba***rd!’”
After receiving additional calls from members of the FDNY, who also stated Johansen had never served as a New York firefighter, he was also removed from a commemorative stair climb event to honor those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We are saddened and ashamed by this development, which detracts from a sincere tribute to the firefighters lost in the World Trade Center attack and a fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, a worthy cause,” Union City (Tenn.) Fire Chief Karl Ullrich said in a statement.
As part of his back story, Johansen had claimed to have served with the FDNY for 25 years, with notable promotions to deputy chief and battalion chief. He also claimed to have been in the North Tower during the incident, and said he later commanded a search and rescue hazmat unit for survivors.
Officials said his entire biography was “stolen bravery.”
In a Facebook post, NYC Fire Wire also called out Johansen for taking advantage of the situation.
“I know 9/11/01 is more than 20 years ago, but the wounds ran deep and it still bleeds,” the post read. “Many are still battling various illnesses and cancers from that day. The nightmares from PTSD wake us up at times. While we understand it affected everyone differently, there is absolutely no excuse for [conning] people like this.”
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