Frontline series coordinating producer Amy Gaines set out to explore the health effects of 9/11 toxic dust present at Ground Zero on first responders-including her father Scott Gaines who was an NYPD officer at the time of the terrorist attacks. Following Scott’s diagnosis in 2016, Amy wanted to learn all she could about his September 11, 2001 experiences, what led to his illnesses and the connection the two might have. She conducted interviews and worked with The FRONTLINE DISPATCH producers to create a podcast episode on the topic.
Come From Away is a currently running Broadway musical based on the amazing true story of a Canadian town’s response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The show’s focus is on the kindness of strangers, as shown by the residents of Gander, Newfoundland. The townspeople opened their homes and their hearts to stranded passengers whose flights were diverted when U.S. air travel was suspended following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The show serves to give hope for kindness in the face of one of the America’s darkest moments.
Retired NYPD Detective Dennis Murphy has 9/11-related neck, throat and tongue cancer that developed from time spent at the main morgue in Manhattan following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Murphy receives treatment for his cancer at the Queens World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence. He also volunteers there making phone calls to get folks signed up with the World Trade Center Health Program.
A New York Daily News article written by Thomas Tracy reports on the need for a new World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) clinic which will be opening soon on William St. in Lower Manhattan. There’s been a rise in WTCHP enrollees in the past several months. The clinic is expected to see approximately 750 patients each month. Many are realizing their health has been affected by exposure to toxins following 9/11 and are seeking help from the programs that are set up to provide them with the care they need.
Table 7: Claim Information by Self-Reported Claimant Category - from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), is current as of April 30, 2018. It outlines how many claims have been submitted, been deemed eligible, received an award decision and also includes a dollar amount for each category of claimants included in the chart. At the publishing time of this chart, the VCF has awarded close to $4 billion dollars.
FDNY firefighter and 9/11 hero Ray Pfiefer was honored with a plaque that now hangs at his firehouse in New York. Ray spent 6 months following 9/11 searching at Ground Zero for those who died in the terrorist attacks and then went on to fight for health coverage that would benefit the first responders who had worked alongside him at the World Trade Center site. Ray never gave up, even while he himself was battling the 9/11-related cancer which eventually took his life. He continues in death to do for others through the Ray Pfeifer Foundation.
Fire Chief Ronald Spadafora, a 40-year veteran with the Fire Department of New York became the 178th member of the FDNY to die of 9/11-related illnesses. Spadafora was the chief of safety for the recovery effort at the World Trade Center. He saw the whole rescue and recovery effort through it’s completion. That meant exposure for several months to the lethal combination of toxic dust and debris. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2015.
Many first responders, residents, students and workers continue to get sick and die from exposure to dust and debris in the months following 9/11. While the rest of the country has moved forward, countless people have continued to suffer 9/11-related illness and death in the 16 years since September 11, 2001. Programs to help with medical care and costs are in place for those who are eligible, and memorials have been created so we never forget.