Everything You Need to Know About the 9/11 Compensation Fund for First Responders

Jul 22, 2019

There has been a lot of news surrounding the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. If you aren’t up-to-date with the situation, we have a recap of the circumstances from start to finish.

The Bill

 

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 is a U.S. law that provides health monitoring and financial aid to the first responders, volunteers, and survivors of the 9/11 attacks.

The law is named after NYPD officer James Zadroga who died at the age of 34 of respiratory disease that has been directly linked to his participation in the rescue operations of the World Trade Center attacks.

James Zadroga was a healthy, non-smoker with no previous history of asthma or breathing issues. After spending more than 450 hours participating in recovery efforts at the scene of 9/11, he developed a persistent cough. The cough eventually progressed into shortness of breath and being unable to walk more than 100 feet without gasping for air.

The law was introduced to the House on February 4, 2009 and signed into law by former President Barack Obama on January 2, 2011. It covers specific illnesses, including interstitial lung diseases, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and 50 different types of cancer.

 

Why The 9/11 Compensation Fund Matters

 

The September 11, 2001 attacks forever colored the history of the United States. The event killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000. It has been determined that many additional deaths can be attributed to the attacks from people who died of related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

When the terrorist attack occurred, first responders rushed to the scene to help. They did not stop to consider themselves, they were true heroes and continued to stay for days for recovery efforts. The only priority was saving lives.

The 9/11 attacks are considered the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the United States. Of the 2,996 people that were killed, 412 emergency workers perished, which accounts for almost 14% of all deaths.

 

The first responder deaths were:

  • 343 firefighters on the New York Fire Department
  • 37 police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department
  • 23 police officers of the New York City Police Department
  • 8 emergency medical technicians and paramedics from private emergency medical services
  • 1 patrolman from the New York Fire patrol

 

What the First Responders Sacrificed

 

We can count the number of first responders that died on the scene. What is difficult to determine is just how many people walked away from the site but were still significantly impacted. As of March 2019, it’s estimated that roughly 95,000 first responders and volunteers have come forward with health problems from 9/11. The health fund program has recorded more than 2,355 deaths and 12, 500 cases of cancer from 9/11.

 

Toxic Dust

The toxic dust emitted from the collapsed tower was deemed to be highly poisonous. The dust was made up of pulverized concrete, glass and other fibers, non-fibrous material and construction debris, lead, mercury, and other elements that are dangerous when inhaled. For the first responders who spent days on the site trying to recover survivors and the bodies of victims, the consequences of inhaling this dust, has led to serious health conditions.

 

Cancer Risk

There have been multiple studies and claims that exposure to the site directly increased rates of cancer for many first responders. Specifically, high rates of prostate cancer, thyroid cancers, multiple myeloma, and male breast cancer have been reported.

 

Psychological Impact

There is no denying that the scene at 9/11 was traumatic to witness. Bodies were strewn around. First responders worked endless hours, as time was of the essence to rescue any surviving people. Towers collapsed while first responders were on the scene. This means that after seeing colleagues perish in the collapse, first responders had to continue working while worrying that another collapse might occur.

The impact of the stressors and the cases of PTSD from the situation cannot be measured, but there is no doubt the impact is great.

 

2019 Updates

 

Recently, you may have noticed Jon Stewart making the headlines for speaking to congress about the 9/11 victim fund. In 2010, the 9/11 fund had $2.7 billion set aside to help victims with chronic health problems resulting from working at the attack site. In 2015, Congress added another $4.6 billion in funding. Over recent years, many serious illnesses have arisen, and it’s estimated that the amount needed by 2020 could total $11.6 billion. The fund began to run out, and victims were being given less and less money to cover their medical expenses.

A proposal was brought to Congress for a permanent extension of the victim fund until 2090.

When the bill was brought to the House Judiciary Committee for additional funding, Jon Stewart gave a passionate speech. What was he upset about? Several members of Congress didn’t even show up to the hearing. In a time to honor the heroes that stood up for America and put their lives on the line, budgets and money were made a priority.

 

 

 

A proposal was brought to Congress for a permanent extension of the victim fund until 2090.

When the bill was brought to the House Judiciary Committee for additional funding, Jon Stewart gave a passionate speech. What was he upset about? Several members of Congress didn’t even show up to the hearing. In a time to honor the heroes that stood up for America and put their lives on the line, budgets and money were made a priority.

 

 

As of mid-July 2019, the House, with overwhelming support, approved the bill for the victims’ compensation fund to have funding until 2090. The final vote was 402-12, and majority leader Mitch McConnell has promised to call a vote in Congress in August.

On July 29, 2019 President Donald Trump signed the act into law which authorized the extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. 

Kristina Obodovskiy

Marketing Specialist

Kristina Obodovskiy is a Marketing Specialist at InTime. With a BBA in Marketing Management and over 4 years of marketing experience, Kristina has written guest contribution content for several organizations in the past. If you would like to connect with Kristina, find her on LinkedIn here.

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