NEW YORK — Racked by pain and the ravages of leukemia, firstresponder Gregory Quibell of North Babylon allowed film crews to record poignant moments of his life.
For weeks, his visits to doctors and his struggles to pay medical bills were captured for a documentary called “Save the Brave,” which premiered last night at the Bellmore Theatre in Bellmore.
The film’s opening is dedicated to Quibell, 53, who died Wednesday night at his home, friends said. The film features three other firstresponders living with Sept. 11-related illnesses.
“The movie had no actors in it. They were real-life heroes,” said John Feal, the film’s producer, who is president of the nonprofit FealGood Foundation and advocates for sick Sept. 11 responders. “Greg is proof that heroes are dying, and it’s unacceptable.”
The three others featured in “Save the Brave” are former New York City firefighter John McNamara of Shirley, former FDNY chief Jim Riches of Brooklyn and former emergency services worker Charlie Giles of Barnegat, N.J.
A DVD of the film will be sent to Congress to highlight the need for a national Sept. 11 health bill, Feal said. Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would create federal programs for medical treatment and compensation for ill responders and residents living near Ground Zero.
Anne Marie Baumann, senior vice president of the FealGood Foundation, said she became involved in the foundation after her husband, Christopher Baumann – an NYPD officer – had multiple health issues after working at Ground Zero.
She said if one thing comes from the documentary being released, she hopes it’s “that the bill is passed. I know the sickness isn’t going to stop, but the pain can stop.”
In February, Quibell, a state correction department worker, traveled to Washington and demanded more money for health programs for those who responded to the terrorist attacks.
Quibell was one of several dozen search-and-rescueworkers deputized by federal authorities to assist at Ground Zero. In the aftermath, he suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and then was diagnosed late last year with leukemia.
He said exposure to toxins at the World Trade Center site led to his health problems.
Feal said yesterday that he was at Quibell’s bedside when he died. The two had a final, full conversation on Friday. The movie, which took two months to make, didn’t come up during that talk. They focused on family: Quibell’s four children and fiancee, Theresa Galoppe.
“He knew he was dying,” Feal said. “He just said please make sure Theresa and the children are taken care of. He died a hero. He didn’t complain. He just wanted to make sure everyone is taken care of when he was gone.”Kenny Porpora contributed to this story.