Sunday, September 12, 2010
John Feal first responder fighting for 911 workers
This is an issue that hits close to home with me. Having spent 20 years in haz mat I knew what was happening and going to happen with the responders and workers at ground zero. While the rest of the nation was in shock over the initial attack (as was I) I soon realized what was about to happen to all the workers at the site would be worse. I remember discussing this with fellow bloggers back then. They were unaware of all the chemical exposures that had been unleashed when the towers went down. I had a general idea of what had happened but not until we studied this event in later recertification classes did I know the full extent of the exposures. I knew for example that this was not just a matter of washing off the dust and going about business as usual. What was in that dust included from what I knew at the time (some of my coworkers had worked on the buildings) that there was asbestos,lead,mercury,silica,and jet fuel. This event was nothing like anything that has happened in American history not just in terms of the size of the destruction but the response. But much like many responses for which we are unprepared this too was an organizational nightmare. No one knew who was in charge and for the most part no one was in charge. This was a fire scene, a crime scene and a superfund site all rolled into one. It wasn't until four years after the event that money was released and five years before even the most basics of communications and chain of command training had been developed. I have two of those small books in my haz mat library.
But this post is about the health effects of the ground zero workers and what congress has done to help. The workers who had breathed a toxic soup of chemicals soon developed illnesses, illnesses that doctors had never seen. Sloan Kettering hospital set up an entire department to deal just for the 911 workers. Workers who were once vibrant and healthy were now barely able to walk. To add insult to injury no one wanted to pay out their work related claims. Workers had to fight not just to survive but with government agencies, insurance companies and lawyers.
Here's the real kick in the teeth from our elected officials or should I say a few obstructionists. The 'No Party' strikes again.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which failed to pass in the House this past July, would provide free health care and compensation payments to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the trade center ruins.
This bill was turned down last summer as well. And three guesses which political party voted against it both times? I'm going to try and find the names of those in congress who voted against this and post them. I hope you'll take a minute to email that congressmen and ask him or her why?
(Snark alert!) What a wonderful way to honor the heroes, the men and women who died and are dying who were just doing their jobs on 911. Thank you so much senators and congressmen for all you haven't done for us.