Statistics from Dr. David Prezant, the FDNY’s chief medical officer, show that three out of four firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who labored on The Pile in the days, weeks and months after 9/11 where the World Trade Center once stood now suffer health ailments from the poison ground and the poison air. Twenty years on after the day of destruction and fire, Ground Zero continues haunting the heroes and victims of 9/11.
Prezant, a pulmonologist who was there on 9/11 to treat FDNY members and escaped the collapse of the South Tower, has been examining the impact on the department of the toxins from the very beginning when that enormous grey plume rose when the WTC fell. It was studies he did with his now-retired FDNY colleague Dr. Kerry Kelly that established the terrible toll of illness and death the WTC was taking and helped spur Congress to enact billions for a compensation fund and a health program.
While the money can’t end the suffering and the pain, the dollars put into the health program have greatly proven their value. As Prezant told the Daily News’ Mike McAuliff, the constant monitoring and early detection of maladies such as cancer have led to significantly improved treatment outcomes for FDNY veterans of 9/11.