FDNY's Top Chief Urges Safety Fixes


 
 

Carol Eisenberg | | Friday, September 21, 2007


A top New York City fire official called on the federal government yesterday to learn the lessons from 9/11, and make "a concerted, long-term effort" to protect first responders.

"On Sept. 11, there was nothing we could have done to have saved the lives of those on the Towers' highest floors," acknowledged Deputy New York City Fire Chief Nicholas Visconti.

"But we could have and we should have saved 121 firefighters who couldn't hear evacuation orders because their radios weren't working," he said. "We could have and should have lessened the health impact on responders by providing them with proper respirators and protective gear from Day One. We could have and should have operated under a unified command system."

But changes have been slow in coming, he testified to the House Homeland Security Committee.

While some improvements have been made to communications and other equipment, "we have yet to focus on how to better protect the individuals who respond to major disasters in a comprehensive way," Visconti said.

Witnesses assailed health and safety monitoring in particular. Although an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 people who worked on the pile at Ground Zero were exposed to toxic dust and debris, federal monitoring continues to be "stop and start," said Cynthia Bascetta of the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Tens of thousands of those individuals have yet to be screened at all, she said.

"We recommended in July 2007 that the Secretary of Health and Human Services ... ensure that health screening and monitoring services are available to all people who responded to the attack, regardless of who their employer was or where they reside," said Bascetta, the GAO's health care director.

"As of September, 2007, the department has not responded to this recommendation."

Meanwhile, new illnesses continue to be diagnosed in those who have come forward. Between 400 and 500 new people register every month with the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, said director Dr. Philip Landrigan.

More than two-thirds of the 9,442 responders screened between July 2002 and April 2004 have been diagnosed with new or worsened lung problems, he said. "The possibility is real that illnesses will persist at least in some, and that new diseases will emerge in others."

Funding for the Mount Sinai program ends in 2009.

Asked what lessons might be applied to future disasters, Landrigan was blunt.

"We can expect the responders who rush into these disasters to get sick," he said. "And we need to have plans in place to monitor and treat them."

carol.eisenberg@newsday.com


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, Industry News, Legal and Ethical, Provider Wellness and Safety, Airway and Respiratory, Operations and Protcols, WMD and Terrorism, Patient Management, Training

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Image Trend: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ImageTrend just challenged NEMSIS TAC and a couple others.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.?

A.J. Heightman participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a big way!
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Details on Discipline Released in D.C. Investigation

Interim fire chief claims punishment was not severe enough.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Kentucky Firefighters Recovering from Injuries

One of the four remains in critical condition.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Numerous Rescues during Arizona Flooding

Severe flooding across the region prompted several rescues.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Hiker Rescue

Injured hiker spent three hours in a crevice.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Airlift at Swiss Train Derailment

Helicopters used to help reach the injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >