9/11 First Responders Necessary Medical Equipment. In a heartwarming story reported by NY1 Staten Island, a terminally ill first responder who spent weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks assisting in rescue and recovery efforts has finally received a motorized wheelchair.
In December of 2017, Sal Turturici, a father of three who lives in Staten Island, gratefully accepted a motorized wheelchair from the Ray Pfeifer Foundation.
Turturici had just begun a career as an emergency medical technician shortly after terrorists flew commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth plane, directed toward the U.S. Capitol, instead crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers thwarted the efforts of terrorists.
Turturici’s first assignment as a new EMT was to spend months and months in rescue and recovery efforts after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
In 2015, Turturici was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. His doctors told him that his illness was caused by the time he spent at Ground Zero.
Not too long after Turturici received his devastating diagnosis, he crossed paths with a retired firefighter named Ray Pfeifer. Pfeifer had also been diagnosed with cancer, and, like Turturici, his diagnosis was also caused by the time he spent working at Ground Zero.
Pfeifer dedicated much of his time to advocating for the Zadroga Act, which provides healthcare monitoring and services to those impacted by 9/11. Eligible individuals include survivors, first responders, and recovery workers. Though he was ill, Pfeifer traveled to Washington, D.C. multiple times to express his support for the act.
During his trips to Washington, D.C., Pfeifer realized that certain types of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and scooters, are not covered by health insurance. This was a real problem for many victims of 9/11, as their injuries and illnesses severely limited their mobility.
For example, Turturici’s liver cancer makes him tire easily. When he received his motorized wheelchair, he said, “It’ll let me do the right thing and make sure that I can hang out with my kids, and be with my kids and do it all, and make memories.”
Pfeifer passed away in May of 2017. Shortly after his death, the Ray Pfeifer foundation was launched, its goal is to help 9/11 victims obtain wheelchairs and other medical equipment they need.
Turturici’s motorized wheelchair is the first gift from the Ray Pfeifer Foundation. The foundation is still quite new and is working to locate first responders and other victims who need help. Of Turturici’s motorized wheelchair, Pfeifer’s son, Terence, said, “Help him out, get him mobility, because I know it was a big issue for my dad. For him to be able to get this is great.”
According to the Fire Department of New York, there are more than 10,000 individuals who have been diagnosed with illnesses and cancers that are directly related to their work at Ground Zero. Hopefully, the Ray Pfeifer Foundation will be able to easily locate these individuals and help them get the medical equipment they need.
More about the Zadroga Act-are you or a loved one eligible?
The impact of the 9/11 terror attacks did not cease once that Tuesday ended. The attacks were just the beginning of a nightmare for many victims, including those who simply lived, attended school or worked in the area around Ground Zero.
When the World Trade Center collapsed, a massive amount of carcinogens and other toxins were released into the air. These harmful chemicals hovered over Ground Zero for weeks and weeks. Many first responders, volunteers, and others who were in the area during this time have been diagnosed with certain types of cancers and respiratory illnesses. Many of these illnesses take several years to manifest.
President Obama signed the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act into law in 2011. The law created the World Trade Center Health Program and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which had originally stopped taking applications in 2003.
The World Trade Center Health Program provides treatment and monitoring for 9/11 victims. The World Trade Center Health Program works closely with the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. A victim may undergo a disability evaluation through the World Trade Center Health Program and then submit the necessary paperwork to receive compensation from the September 11 Victim Compensation Act.
Eligible claimants are not limited to current New York City residents. Anyone who was injured during or after the 9/11 terror attacks may be eligible for compensation.
The following groups may be eligible for compensation:
- Fire Department of New York City members
- Police Department of New York City members
- Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey members
- Any individuals who worked onsite, including volunteers
- Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City and other morgue employees
- Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation tunnel employees
- Vehicle maintenance workers
- Those who lived, attended school or worked around Ground Zero
The eligible area around Ground Zero is defined as the area of Manhattan below Houston Street, as well as blocks in Brooklyn that are within a 1.5-mile radius of where the World Trade Center once stood.
In Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, responders are eligible for benefits. These responders include volunteers, recovery and/or cleanup workers, police department members, and fire department members.
What illnesses are covered?
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund covers a wide range of cancers and respiratory illnesses. These include:
- Blood Cancers
- Lymphoid Cancers
- Bone Cancers
- Breast Cancers
- Childhood Cancers
- Digestive System Cancers
- Eye Cancers
- Head and Neck Cancers
- Reproductive Organ Cancers
- Respiratory Cancers
- Skin Cancers
- Soft tissue Cancers
- Thyroid Cancers
- Urinary System Cancers
- Mesothelioma and other diseases linked to Asbestos
- Certain Rare Cancers
- Interstitial Lung Diseases
- Polymyositis and Myositis
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
There are other injuries that may also be eligible for compensation.
How long do I have to file a claim?
If you have an injury that is eligible for benefits, you have two years from the date you know or should have known that your injuries were related to the September 11 attacks to file a claim. If the individual has died, survivors have two years from the date of death to apply for benefits.
Medical issues are often not black and white. It may be difficult to determine if an injury is linked to the September 11 attacks. Therefore, it is smart to seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible so that you may learn about your legal options. Many individuals are still unaware that they are eligible for compensation under these federal programs. By consulting with an attorney and submitting the proper paperwork to these programs, you will know if you are eligible for benefits. If you never discuss your health condition with an attorney, you may lose your right to seek compensation and be wholly responsible for your expenses.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today Regarding 9/11 First Responders
At Parker Waichman LLP, we are proud to represent 9/11 victims and their families. During your Free 9/11 Injury Consultation, we will go over your legal options. To schedule your free consultation, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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Further Zadroga Act resources: