Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Responders

James Zadroga, a member of the NYPD, was a first responder to 9/11 and spent over 450 hours at ground zero. He developed labored breathing and was told by his doctor that he would be dead in five years.

He wrote in his journal "I can’t pay my bills and work doesn’t want to acknowledge that I’m sick, depressed and disgusted." "They remember the dead but don’t want to acknowledge the sick who are living."

NYPD policy required that Zadroga visit a police doctor in Queens each time he called in sick.  In addition, his supervisor would come to his home to confirm he was ill. 

To give a bit of perspective, of the 332 firefighters diagnosed with respiratory issues, 90 percent had not returned to work a year after the incident.

It’s not a question of cost, it’s a question of . . . the absence of scientific evidence conclusively showing a link between the illnesses and the activity at the 9/11 site. If America wants to say you are heroes, we want to recognize your service, and we are grateful, and as a result we’re going to generously offer you health care for the rest of your lives. . . . So if you want to do it as a gift, a grateful nation says you can have this as a result of your service, perhaps. 
- Charles Krauthammer, an American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, author, political commentator, and physician shared his views over compensation for 9/11 responders with Fox "news".

In 2003, at age 30, Zadroga was diagnosed with a serious form of occupational lung disease.  The NYPD medical board refused to approve his claim based on lack of conclusive evidence connecting his illness to work at ground zero. 
In October 2004, Zadroga’s 29 year old wife died unexpectedly. Zadroga was finally awarded a settlement in 2004 but died shortly after at age 34. His daughter, after losing both her parents, was in the care of Zadroga's parents. 

That the sick can get compensation without proving that they became ill from 9/11, and because police and firefighters who helped with the clean-up are already amply rewarded. 
- Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma, on why he does not support compensation. 
The pathologist conducted an autopsy and determined that the cause of death was "directly related to a 9/11 incident" and specifically listed talc, cellulose, calcium phosphate and methacrylate plastic in Zadroga’s lungs.  

The first Zadroga Act, to provide benefits to families of workers who died of 9/11 related illnesses, was introduced. 

However in October 2007, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Zadroga's death was cased by ground prescription drugs that scarred his lungs. 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg added, "We wanted to have a hero and there are plenty of heroes. It’s just in this case, science says this was not a hero."
Zadroga's father reported that his son never ground up and inhaled medication. A third opinion from the chief forensic pathologist of the New York State Police cited the presence of glass fibers in Zadroga’s lungs consistent with ground zero toxins. 

Two years later the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was introduced in Congress.

The lesson of 9/11 is that America is truly exceptional. We withstood the worst attack of our history, intended by our enemies to destroy us. Instead, it drew us closer and made us more united. 
- Rudy Giuliani
Under Giuliani, NYC fireman were given a starting salary of $32,000 a year, among the lowest paid in the country, while living in one of the costliest area in the country. 

Giuliani then ordered a reduction of the number of firefighters involved in the recovery of the remains of their comrades who lost their lives at the trade center. 

I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was there guiding things. 
- Rudy Giuliani

I’m a NYC fireman. A million thanks doesn’t pay the mortgage. 
- Response to news story about Giuliani 

John Feal had half of his foot amputated after a steel beam fell on him. He formed the Feal-Good Foundation in support of the act. After making 91 trips to congress he reported, "It was beyond frustrating. . . . These men and women who were sick and struggling were the best of what America had to offer. It was insulting."

In December 2010, Senate Republicans filibustered the $7.4 billion Zadroga bill, refusing to provide benefits to first responders and instead focused on extending Bush tax cuts.

I signed a letter saying we need to be focusing on what we're doing right now. 
- John Ensign Senator from Nevada explaining why extending tax cuts for the rich was a legislative priority. 

We need to get the issue addressed for the firefighters and the 911 victims, and we will. . . . The difference I think with the tax bill is there is a deadline, January first. We have to get this done. Taxes go up on January first.
- John Thune Senator from South Dakota 

Jon Stewart, called out Republicans who dared use "9/11 imagery to get yourselves elected."

After very public embarrassment, the bill (reduced to $4.2 billion) was passed.

I have no role models, no heroes, but Jon Stewart comes as close as possible to that. 
-  John Feal

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health refused to process claims for cancer even after 294 medical journal articles in 18 publications demonstrated that first responders were exposed to multiple carcinogens and were more likely to develop cancer.  

The director of NIOSH reported that none of the research contained "any quantitative data concerning cancer as a health outcome."

Margie Smith, widow of Harold "Smitty" Smith who passed away from cancer, made a statement. "The crime of it is, if you asked him — or most of the other people who are sick — to do it again, knowing they might get cancer, they would do it again. For that alone, they deserve better."

Eventually NIOSH agreed to consider cancer claims. More than 2,500 responders have been diagnosed with cancer and have applied for assistance. 

Overall they have processed 14,618 eligibility claims, agreeing to pay 6,285 victims. 

More than half of the funds are gone and Feal is lobbying for Congress to expand the act which will expire next year. An estimated 72,000 responders will eventually need health care secondary to working at ground zero. 

Paul Ryan voted against healthcare for 9/11 responders twice and he would have voted against a 3rd time but he was on vacation. 

Richard Alles, a representative of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, called out the four Republican senators running for president  (Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul of Kentucky) who had not supported the bill. "I hold them to a higher standard."

Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, made a website which lists members of Congress and their stand towards the act. 

Jon Stewart also intends to once again embarrass the Congress into providing support. "Let's schedule a call, and let's schedule a ritual shaming around that time. I obviously at that point will be knee-deep in, more than likely, grain alcohol."

I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much. 
- Ann Coulter in response to four widows who were pushing for changes in how the government guards against future attacks.

When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, Oh shut up, I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. 
- Glenn Beck

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