It’s a somber day across the United States, and deservedly so. On this 15 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, millions are remembering what they were doing when everything transpired that abominable day, whilst others are engaging in some type of charitable act to pay their respects to those who tragically lost their lives just going to work that September fall day. While this will always be a calamitous day in the hearts and minds of billions of people on a global scale, the ramifications of the day’s events are still far from over.
An appalling 343 firefighters lost their lives innocently trying to do their job during the terrorist attacks, but what most aren’t aware of are the hundreds of first responders that are still fighting the aftermath of 9/11 today, now some 15 years later. Ask anyone that works in the police, fire department, or paramedic fields that survived the attacks how they feel about being alive today to talk about it, and nearly every single one will tell you that they still battle the effects of that devastation.
The “World Trade Center Cough” for example, is one of the top ailments that responders are still receiving medical treatment for in 2016. Hundreds of firefighters worked tirelessly day after day digging through the smoke, debris, and rubble in search of survivors, and sadly, their colleagues. Just as someone that was once an employee at a tobacco factory, or worked with asbestos in the past can suffer from deferred health issues as a result of their careers, the same theory applies to these firefighters digging through and breathing in smoke and ash for weeks.
ABC News divulged that the scary statistic the public isn’t even considering is that post 9/11 an additional 127 firefighters have died as a result of complications from 9/11 work conditions. Add that number of fallen heroes to the 343 that were killed in the line of duty that September week in 2001, and now you have a deplorable total of 470 firefighters that were casualties of this horrific attack.
It doesn’t stop there, as you can imagine that if 127 passed away within the last 15 years from complications, that there will still be many more suffering for years to come with their symptoms. Health conditions that have unfolded from hundreds of 9/11 first responders are the obvious respiratory challenges such as asthma, or difficulties with their lungs. Some other much more severe ailments like gastrointestinal disease, and even cancer have formed. And don’t even remotely try to wrap your head around the amount of police, fire, and EMS employees that are living with mental health illnesses now, which can often be more unsettling to treat than a physical injury. Many of these selfless firefighters now living with mental health disorders sadly cannot be left alone.They suffer from terrible anxiety just trying to perform basic functions such as going out into public areas, hearing loud noises such as fireworks, or even sleeping a full night’s rest without anxiety due to developing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Never to be forgotten are those that survived 9/11 and simply couldn’t live without suffering mentally that resulted in numerous firefighter suicides. Certainly puts things devastatingly into perspective when you ponder the aftermath of 9/11, today, some 15 years later.
The unthinkable 9/11 strikes on the United States may be but only a nightmare most lived that day and never truly thought of again since. Those folks are very fortunate, and often find ways to pay homage to those who are no longer with us as a result of that lethal day in September. Here are some fantastic organizations that you can opt to volunteer or donate to that will directly impact many 9/11 firefighter families: