Thirteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which killed 3000 people, the death toll is still growing as thousands of emergency workers report cancer.
The latest figures indicate that in excess of 2500 fire-fighters, police officers, sanitation workers and ambulance staff suffer from cancer. This figure has doubled during the past year.
According to its latest figures, the World Trade Center Health program, based at Mount Sinai Hospital, indicated 1655 responders with cancer among the 37000 hard hats, cops, sanitation workers, volunteers and other city employees.
When the EMT’s and fire-fighters are added to this number, it increases to 2518. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) maintains its own WTC health programme, which indicates that 863 members suffer with cancer certified for 9/11-related treatment programmes.
A 63-year old FDNY captain who worked at Ground Zero for one week non-stop after the tragic event, and months overall, was recently given $1.5m from the federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as he contracted lung disease and pancreatic cancer.
He stated that he hopes more cases such as his would be rushed through as their prognosis is not promising.
The captain managed to get the Brooklyn Bridge closed on 9/11 by commandeering a bus, to allow him and his crew from Ladder Co. 132 to race to the towers to join the dig for victims. He added that he was aware that many of them would become ill.
He was forced into retirement after the lung damage he suffered left him gasping for breath after fires. Doctors found a huge tumour entwined around his arteries during last year. They were prevented from removing it as the surgical procedure would have resulted in his death.
He said that he was very grateful for the VCF award which is mostly for lost earning, along with $250000 for suffering and pain. However, he has to wait two years to receive 90% of the award as VCF recipients only receive 10% of their claim immediately.
The VCF has received 1145 cancer claims as of 30 June.
Of this number, 881 for different types of cancers have been deemed eligible for compensation while the others are in the review process. Most of the claims are from 9/11 workers, but 17 claims are from downtown residents and five are from visitors.
A total sum of $50.5m has thus far been awarded to 115 claimants suffering from cancer. The VCF was unable to state the number of claimants who have died.
The organisation is expecting many more claims from sufferers or their next of kin to be filed by the deadline date of 14 October.
According to studies done by WTC epidemiologists, many 9/11 workers have contracted cancers, such as multiple myeloma, leukaemia, thyroid and prostate, at a significantly increased rate than was expected in a normal population.
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