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Ailing 911 Responder Still Struggling for Benefits

Sep 16, 2016

It has been fifteen years since the attacks on September 11th, and many first responders continue to face health problems related to their rescue and recovery efforts. Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act has been a huge victory for 9/11 responders and survivors. After years of effort from 9/11 advocates and lawmakers, the bill was renewed at the end of last year; the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program was funded for another 75 years and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) extended another 5 years. These developments have been extremely positive, but there are still 9/11 responders who are fighting for benefits.

NY1 shares the story of a former paramedic and first responder who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pulmonary fibrosis and stroke related to 9/11 exposure. He recently went into cardiac arrest and suffered a second stroke, which left him unable to swallow. He now eats through a feeding tube. NY1 reported on the responder only months after the attacks; he had reached out for help when he was worried his benefits would run out. The responder was using his sick time to recover after suffering a stroke on the job.

The paramedic returned to work months later but was forced into early retirement due to his ailing health. He was unable to work, and then denied Social Security and disability pension. "You can't tell me that, 'Okay, you're good enough to put in harm’s way, and we can throw you into a fire and if you don't get burned that's great, but if you do get burned, now we don't know you,'" he told NY1.

Years later, he was able to receive benefits through the Zadroga Act, obtaining compensation from the VCF. Still, he is struggling to obtain other benefits. Since he worked for a private hospital, he was denied the Public Safety Officer Benefit. He comments that "At the time of 9/11 the private hospitals made up 40 percent of the EMS system in NYC".

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