Photo Courtesy Craig Smith/Northwell Health
It is with great sadness that I share news of the loss of Dr. Michael Guttenberg, Northwell Health’s medical director of clinical preparedness and our Center for Emergency Medical Services (CEMS), who died this morning after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Mike spent more than 30 years delivering emergency medical services in the City of New York as an EMT, paramedic field provider and physician. He first joined Northwell Health as chair of emergency medicine at LIJ Forest Hills, and had served as medical director of CEMS since 2016.
While with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) as an EMS fellow, Mike responded to the World Trade Center terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and worked “on the pile” — the post-9/11 wreckage of the WTC. As we all know now, the site’s dust and smoke was laden with dangerous organic material and countless toxicants such as jet fuel, PCBs, dioxins and pulverized glass, drywall and cement.
When he developed pancreatic cancer at age 46, despite a healthy lifestyle and no prior risk factors, Mike attributed his diagnosis to Ground Zero illness — the health fallout experienced by many first responders and volunteers.
Ever an example of perseverance and kindness, Mike lived and served more than four years with the disease after his diagnosis – 74 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer die within one year.