Written by Lila Nordstrom of “Students of 911” www.studentsof911.org
Not everybody is familiar with the terminology that the WTC Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund use to classify the populations they serve. Here’s a quick primer:
General Responders: This category is for people who worked or, in some cases, volunteered down at the WTC site on September 11th itself or during the months-long clean-up. This includes anybody who was there in a professional capacity, not just members of the uniformed services. Beyond police, firefighters, and military, the “responder” category includes any other people who worked or volunteered onsite in rescue, recovery, debris cleanup, or related support services, workers at downtown barges or Staten Island Landfill who handled and sorted WTC debris, employees at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC or morgue workers who sorted or identified dust-covered remains, and news crews who reported from the scene.
*FDNY Responders and Shanksville Responders receive the same services as the General Responder population but have their own health programs within the WTC Health Program.
NYC Survivors: This category is for people who attended school, lived, or worked in below Houston Street or in western Brooklyn between September 11th, 2001 and July 31st, 2002. Survivors receive slightly different benefits from responders in the WTC Health Program, but care for both groups is available nationwide.
If you were in lower Manhattan on or after September 11th, knowing which category you qualify under is important for the World Trade Center Health Program application. The VCF does not distinguish between responders and survivors when determining award amounts, but the proof of presence requirements vary depending on the type of applicant.
For more detailed definitions check the WTC Health Program’s page on the topic: https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/eligiblegroups.html