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Even After 17 Years, 9/11 First Responders Still Suffer

This September marked the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After so long, you’d think we’d have given the first responders who heroically rushed to the scene the support they need and deserve. Yet many of these heroes continue to suffer serious health problems, in part because they have not received the care necessary for a full recovery.

Those who arrived at Ground Zero were immediately exposed to a toxic cloud of dust and soot filled with carcinogens, which originated from the burning remains of the World Trade Center. Initially, they were not given protection from this cloud; they were eventually offered breathing masks, but overall protection was minor. Christine Todd Whitman, who led the EPA at the time, announced it was safe to breathe the air at Ground Zero.

It turned out that air was anything but safe. It contained toxins and carcinogens that damaged the lungs of everyone present. There were also other dangers, including traumatic sights that caused many who saw them to develop severe PTSD.

In the years since, many first responders have developed chronic and fatal health problems that have been unpleasant, debilitating, and often deadly. They range from sleep apnea to COPD to PTSD to gastroesophageal reflux disease to 70 different types of cancer; first responders often experience several of these conditions at once. Many of these issues in turn lead to other health problems. Studies show that sleep apnea, for example, can cause weight gain and diabetes, while PTSD increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

In some cases, first responders left New York specifically as a result of health issues they developed at Ground Zero. Retired NYPD Detective Heidi Higgins, for example, developed such severe respiratory issues that she moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. As she explains, “The New York doctors, the 9/11 doctors, said ‘You need to get out of here. You need to get out of this area. You need to go where there’s an ocean where you can breathe in the sea air with the salt.’” While this has helped her breathe, it has also made it harder for her to claim her rightful benefits. But everyone should know that The World Trade Center Health Program is a national program with locations all over the country.

Barasch & McGarry is committed to supporting all first responders and everyone in the 9/11 community. Ever since we advocated for our client James Zadroga, we’ve known how badly our nation’s heroes need our help. By making sure everyone involved in cleanup and rescue operations gets the financial support and time off they need, we take one small step toward thanking them for their enormous sacrifice.

To learn more about getting the benefits you deserve as a first responder or as a member of the 9/11 community, call Barasch & McGarry at 212-385-8000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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Compensation available to residents and office workers, teachers and students – not just responders and volunteers
Deadline Extended To Register Claims Must file within 2 years from the date your cancer was linked to WTC toxic dust
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  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation


    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

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Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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