Number of NYC fire department first responders to die of 9/11-related illnesses reaches 343 – matching amount killed on day of attacks | US News
The number of first responders from the New York City Fire Department to have died from illnesses related to 9/11 has reached 343 – matching the number who died on the day of the attacks.
Hilda Vannata, an emergency medical technician, died from pancreatic cancer on 20 September this year, while retired firefighter Robert Fulco died of pulmonary fibrosis on 23 September, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh has said.
She added that both illnesses were a result of “time they spent working in the rescue and recovery at the World Trade Center site”.
“With these deaths, we have reached a somber, remarkable milestone. We have now suffered the same number of deaths post September 11th as we experienced that day when the north and south towers fell. Our hearts break for the families of these members, and all who loved them,” Ms Kavanagh said in a statement.
“Our responsibility to our FDNY (Fire Department of New York) colleagues extends far beyond what we asked of them on September 11th and in the days and months that followed during rescue and recovery.”
Exposure to the toxic materials in the aftermath of the terror attack has been linked to heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Ms Kavanagh said: “The toll of these illnesses on our FDNY responders continues to grow and includes not only the 343 who have died since 9/11, but also the 11,000 who suffer from WTC-related diseases, including 3,500 with cancer.”
She added that the department’s “commitment to their service and sacrifice must remain as unshakeable for the next two decades as it has been for the last two”.
“So many of our members showed up for us that fateful day, and so many were lost. The legacy we create for them is one of honour, and one of promise. That is why we continue to advocate for the survivors, and we will not stop pushing until all our members have the care they deserve, for the rest of their lives,” Ms Kavanagh wrote.
More than 71,000 people are reported to be enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry, which seeks to track the health of 9/11 first responders and other people caught up in the attacks.
Workers who were in either of the World Trade Center buildings and people who lived in surrounding properties are among those who have also suffered health problems as a result of the atrocity.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al Qaeda terrorists hijacked passenger planes and flew them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon HQ in Washington. Another hijacked plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
The attack marked the largest loss of emergency personnel in US history.