On 9/11, I was a senior public health adviser at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. I worked in the Emergency Preparedness Center. We immediately went to work in the Emergency Operations Center, working 15- to 18-hour days. My role was to send health alerts to state health departments and medical providers and professionals, and to send daily reports of operations to the Health and Human Services Department and White House.

After 9/11 came the anthrax attacks and my job became a 24/7 responsibility. My colleagues and I now carried BlackBerrys and were required to respond to CDC headquarters within 30 minutes of an alert. This went on for about 15 months. We eventually started working shifts because we became physically and emotional exhausted. We received many rewards for our work but to me the most fulfilling was serving my country and my fellow Americans.

I retired from CDC in 2005 but continue to work professionally and as a volunteer in emergency preparedness efforts.

Shaw is a public health consultant in Ellijay, Ga.