Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It’s been going on for 10 years. Remembering 9/11. Although roughly 3,000 people died on 9/11, 70,000 people responded to ground zero and worked for months in toxic smoke and dust. The 3,000 suffered and died. The 70,000 suffer with nightmares and illnesses every day for over 10 years. They are called the responders and now they are dying mentally and physically some both.
There was a doctor that set up a clinic waiting for survivors of the disaster to be sent to his office. None came. Everyone died. So, now he treats the responders who dug through the rubble and found bones and brought the bones to be identified to someone. The cops who heard strange sounds and realized that it was the sound of people crashing to the ground because they just jumped out of a window.
He treats the firemen who saw the blood on the ground from the smashed bodies that willingly threw themselves out of the buildings. He listens to the stories that are all different and unique about the 10 minutes between when the planes hit the buildings and the buildings collapse.
Doctor Luft for the past two years has recorded the stories and has now called his compulation the World Trade Center Oral History Project. No one could possibly know the events the way these people know. They were there in all its vivid disgustingness. Most of them are the officers and firemen who did not leave but survived.
Benjamin Luft now treats the many conditions that the responders are still suffering from at Stonybrook University Medical Center, part of the State University of N.Y. More than 6,000 enrolled in his World Trade Center Health Program. One study found that nearly 1/3 of those who worked at ground zero have asthma. 42% suffer with sinusitis. 40% have gastro esophagus geo reflux disease known as GURD. Many have reactive airwave dysfunction syndrome that the patients just call RADS.
Luft listened to their stories in the examination rooms for 8 years when he realized that his patients were the authors of one of the most dramatic chapters of American history. With his own money, some donations and a volunteer staff, Luft started his interviews and so far he’s recorded 137 tales of disaster.
All different types of people with different occupational skills responded that day. For all of them it was not the 10th Anniversary of something that happened . It is the 10th year of something that never ends. Many have a disease that causes the scaring of the lungs. They are just waiting for their lungs to give out and die. All were covered in toxins for months after the collapse of the buildings. All are suffering from toxic diseases to go along with their vivid nightmares of having to rescue body parts and not people.
Paying for their medical bills have always been a challenge. Funding for the World Trade Center Health Program was never certain until this year when Congress guaranteed coverage. That guarantee lasts only 5 years. The illnesses and the trauma are likely to last a lifetime. They all have post traumatic stress. They all reached the towers before they collapsed. They all have a unique story to tell about what was happening in those terrifying minutes from smoke to collapse to 4 months later sifting debris.
What they saw in 10 minutes they are reliving over and over again in bits and pieces that have lasted 10 years so far, possibly for the rest of their lives. Most have not spoken about it in over 7 years. Dr. Benjamin J. Luft, M.D. has written a book called “We’re Not Leaving “and has released a documentary. The title was chosen because that is what these people said while mostly others were running for their lives. These people stayed and were determined to help.
The profits from the book will go to scholarships and job training for the children of people directly involved in the tragedy.

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