Sep 11, 2006

The Hero's of 9/11 need our help.

(The picture is Ground Zero as it looks today)

The hero's I speak of today, are the firemen, policemen and volunteers that rushed to the twin towers after they collasped. They continue to suffer not just emotionally, but physically. The toxic materials that were pulverized by the destruction of the buildings entered their lungs as they dug through the debris looking for signs of life at first, then just looking for bodies to recover, and finally the construction workers that cleared the site. As the NYT article calls them, they are the Veterans of 9/11.

Roughly 40,000 individuals worked at the site of the twin towers, some for months and months on end. As Mount Sinai Medical Center reported last Tuesday, as many as seven in 10 of those who worked at ground zero and Fresh Kills on Staten Island have felt their lungs deteriorate because of their heroism. Yet many of these heros do not have health insurance five years after the fall of the towers. And the governments, both state and local, are not rushing to help them. People came as far away as Alaska to help in the recovery efforts at the site. Some of them worked with flimsy face masks, some with no protection at all. As one of the authors of the Mt. Sinai Report says: “There should no longer be any doubt about the health effects of the World Trade Center disaster,” said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai’s World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program. “Our patients are sick, and they will need ongoing care for the rest of their lives.”

New York's Mayor Bloomberg isn't convinced of the on-going health issues of those that worked at the site. He is quoted as saying: “I don’t believe that you can say specifically a particular problem came from this particular event,”-I think The Mayor is a jackass for even thinking this, where is his compassion, how much digging did he do at ground zero?

As this article on Mt. Sinai's report states: “This was extremely toxic dust,” Dr. Landrigan said, noting that some samples showed the dust to be as caustic as drain cleaner. The dust also contained innumerable tiny shards of glass, which could get lodged in the lungs, and a stew of toxic and carcinogenic substances, like asbestos and dioxin, that could potentially lead to cancer decades from now.

There are studies that suggest over 40% of the workers do not have health insurance, yet they all suffer from some type of physical illness derived from their work at ground zero. The hero's that are suffering the worst were those that responded immediately after the towers collasped and spent days and weeks there digging among the ruins for victims. The most common problems are upper and lower respiratory problems. There are numbers of firemen and policemen that have died since the fall of the towers, from respiratory illness that their families are convinced happened because of their work at ground zero. Many workers are now too sick to work at their regular jobs and as such, have no health insurance as noted above. These individuals were there when it counted. We need to stand up for them now. We can not turn our backs on them. The federal government authorized 52 Million for healthcare of the individuals showing symptons of medical problems from their work at ground zero. Dr. John Howard, who was named the federal 9/11 health coordinator in February, has already said that the $52 million the federal government has appropriated for treatment late last year is inadequate. There is an ongoing study of the workers at ground zero called the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program. If you know someone that worked at ground zero, they need to access this program, the link is here.

Write to your elected representatives. Tell them that we will never forget the ones that served on that day and the months following when our nation was in shock and mourning the losses of thousands of individuals killed in the fall of the towers. Tell them that we need to take care of them as we have taken care of the families of those killed in the towers. Its the least we can do for those that served without a thought for their own safety and who now suffer for their heroism. Someone needs to speak for them. Most of them can barely speak for themselves because of their health problems. Don't let them be forgotten.

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