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9/11 Health Conditions in EMS Workers

New York city EMS

FDNY EMS workers were among the first of the courageous responders to arrive at Ground Zero after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. As they aided injured victims and transported them to hospitals, EMS workers provided critical emergency medical assistance in the aftermath of the most horrific attack on American soil. Unfortunately, as a result of exposure to the toxins in the dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers collapsed, many FDNY EMS workers have developed chronic health conditions.

Since many cancers and diseases linked to the carcinogens and compounds found in the air and debris at Ground Zero have long latency periods, EMS workers who helped with the rescue efforts continue to be diagnosed with serious 9/11-related illnesses to this day. Eligible FDNY EMS who have suffered 9/11 physical health conditions may be able to receive treatment from the WTC Health Program — and be entitled to an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

9/11-Related Cancers, Diseases, and Illnesses Common in FDNY EMS Workers

The adverse health effects of exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud have been significant in EMS workers, and many who responded to the terrorist attacks continue to develop cancers and suffer from disabling permanent conditions.

study published in 2015 looked at 2,281 FDNY emergency medical services workers over the course of the first 12 years following the terrorist attacks. The research revealed that those who were at Ground Zero the earliest had the highest risk of developing certain 9/11-related health conditions. Some of the common health problems found in EMS workers that the study considered included:

  • Acid reflux disease (GERD)
  • Obstructive airways disease
  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Rhinosinusitis
  • Cancer

According to the data collected, EMS workers who assisted with the rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath had four times the chance of developing GERD and rhinosinusitis. The researchers also found that EMS workers who arrived early were seven times as likely to have PTSD, and twice as likely to suffer depression.

Other research revealed a significant decrease in pulmonary functions in 9/11 EMS workers within one year of the terrorist attacks, with lasting lung damage found years later. Additionally, 9/11 EMS workers may also have developed countless other health conditions as a result of breathing in the chemicals in the dust cloud, including various aerodigestive disorders, numerous respiratory illnesses, and many forms of cancer.

WTC Health Program Eligibility for FDNY EMS Workers

If you were an FDNY EMS worker who aided at Ground Zero or in the surrounding area on September 11, 2001 — or in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks — you may be eligible for health monitoring and treatment from the World Trade Center Health Program.

It’s essential to understand that the WTC Health Program is a separate entity from the VCF. While the VCF provides compensation to eligible responders and survivors, the WTC Health Program is a medical care program administered through the CDC. Although the two programs have different criteria, the VCF requires that your eligible 9/11 condition first be certified by the WTC Health Program to be awarded monetary compensation.

Active or retired FDNY EMS workers who participated in the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero for at least one day between September 11, 2001 and July 31, 2002 may satisfy the WTC Health Program’s eligibility requirements. Under the program’s criteria, one day constitutes four hours. EMS workers may also be eligible for treatment if they worked at the Staten Island Landfill or the NYC Chief Medical Examiner’s Office within the same time frame.

In addition, surviving family members of EMS workers who were killed at Ground Zero may be entitled to receive mental health treatment through the WTC Health Program as long as they were treated for a mental health condition connected with 9/11 on or before September 1, 2008. While the VCF only issues compensation for physical health conditions suffered by responders and survivors, family members of EMS workers who passed away due to a 9/11-related condition may be entitled to file a VCF wrongful death claim.

Contact a New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney

If you’re an eligible 9/11 EMS responder who was diagnosed with a cancer or medical condition connected with exposure to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to receive a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, the process of filing a VCF claim can be frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming — it’s best to have an experienced 9/11 VCF attorney on your side to help you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.  

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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