September 11 first responders, many of whom fell ill while working at Ground Zero, took extra precautions coronavirus epidemicto make sure that their weakened immune system does not come into contact with the virus.
It was in the days following the 2001 terrorist attacks that thousands of construction workers, police and firefighters worked in the rubble where the World Trade Center once stood, and in the years that followed, many of them have seen their health decline, often treating respiratory illnesses. With many of them still having respiratory problems, contracting COVID-19 could prove to be fatal, which means that many heroes of our nation have been forced to isolate themselves from others in the hope of not contracting the virus.
Despite the source of concern, many first responders have attempted to keep a cool head throughout the current crisis.
“I should be fine. It’s just about keeping in mind to stay away, “New York firefighters lieutenant Michael O’Connell (retired) told Fox News. He was a 25-year-old probationary or “proby” firefighter when he spent September 11 helping rescue operations and spent weeks after sifting through the piles of soot and rubble at Ground Zero as part of the bucket brigade research.
“I had answered and my captain Shelly Baracus, deceased since September 11 [related] cancer, he caught me, knowing that I had not even finished his studies at the academy and the words he said to me were: “you do not leave me all day. You are my probity and you go home at the end of this tour, “recalled O’Connell the day of the attacks.
“It’s just a matter of staying aware of staying clear …”
The lieutenant spent those days after September 11 alternating around the clock and therefore developed sarcoidosis, a disease in which collections of inflamed cells abnormally form in the lungs and turn into lumps called granulomas, in 2009. O’Connell was forced to withdraw from the FDNY early. He has spent time since raising his family and working with advocacy groups such as the Feal Good Foundation to help other first responders get help through the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, O’Connell has spent his days like most others, distancing himself from his wife and three children.
“I have a house in Pennsylvania that we built when I got out of the fire department,” he said. “We come and go with the majority of the time we’re going to be there because it’s in the mountains. It’s really isolated from everyone. And I think it’s like the safest place for me But because of my wife’s work, even if she works at home and the kids with their schooling and stuff have to go to school at home, you know, it’s easier to be on Long Island because that’s where it is all. “
“Normal life for us right now is to take care of them, she to take care of her work and me to take care of me.”
The World Trade Center health program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just been released guidelines who provided instructions on how first responders can prevent COVID-19 and that they will cover testing and treatment.
“We are able to provide COVID-19 testing and care to members at high risk due to certified WTC conditions while ensuring that the program meets its WTC care mission, program requirements and the James Zadroga 9/11. Health and Compensation Act, “reads the news release.
The health program says it is expanding the use of telehealth options, offering home delivery for filled prescriptions and putting in-person protections at their facilities.
Justice Department September 11 Victim Compensation Fund officials told Fox News that they had a well-established fast-track claims process in which they could issue a funding allowance and process payments in a delay of 3 to 4 weeks.
“Asylum seekers faced with these difficult circumstances can ask the VCF to expedite the processing of their claims,” a VCF spokesman for September 11 said in a written statement to Fox News.
John Feal, a first responder advocate and founder of the Feal Good Foundation, said it’s not just New Yorkers who need to be careful.
“One hundred percent of everyone who was at Ground Zero or the Pentagon is compromised because of their underlying health issues, be it severe respiratory illnesses, upper and lower respiratory illnesses, gastrointestinal illnesses” , Feal told Fox News.
“Unfortunately, the 17,000 or more people who have cancer linked to September 11 are certified. These men and women must follow the advice of medical experts and practice social distance and take it seriously, “he said.” I take this very seriously. I have had pneumonia three times in the past five years and I will not lie to you. That scares me. “
He added that what the nation needs in this time of crisis is humanity.
“We have to put politics aside,” he said. “The true spirit of a human being is to care… and we have to come back to it. And I believe that this disease and this pandemic will show who is full of empathy, sympathy and compassion and will show who cares. And these selfish people and those at Costco buy thousands of rolls of toilet paper at a time. “