Monday, December 20, 2010

First Responders, The Walking Dead

James & Tylerann

James Zadroga was a healthy 30 year old, burly six foot two inche tall man, weighing 260 pounds at the time he attempted rescue operations at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
He had joined the New York Police Department in 1992, and had attained the rank of Detective. He was a married man, his wife's name was Ronda. She was 26 years old. They would have a daughter, Tylerann. James and Tylerann liked to play Barbie and Ken together.
James was a non-smoker, and had no history of respiratory disease before spending 470 hours working at the Ground Zero site, trying to help any way he could. He was actually in Building 7 as it began to collapse, but was able to get out in time and escaped.
But he didn't escape the effects of exposure to the poisonous mix of gases and materials that were spread throughout the atmosphere of the site, and just weeks after he had finished his share of the work there he began to feel ill, developing a persistent cough, shortness of breath, acid reflux. and general weakness. Within months he could hardly walk, needing oxygen tanks, antibiotics, and steroid injections.
He filed a line of injury report with the NYPD, but it didn't seem to do any good, and he was often forced to go to work when his father said he could barely walk up the stairs.
He moved to Florida with Ronda and 2 year old Tylerann. He must have thought the change in climate might help his worsening condition. But Ronda, fell ill with a heart ailment. She died in October 2004 at the age of 29. So he took his daughter back to New Jersey where he had lived all his life, and moved in with his parents, Joseph and Linda.
He received a disability pension, and now instead of going to work he would go to the hospital, and the doctors there could find nothing specific that caused the symptoms he was experiencing and treated him for asthma, giving him more steroids and a nebulizer, and sent him home.
Where Tylerann now looked after her father. "I told him to lie on the couch," she said, "I gave my daddy his medicine."
Linda Zadroga attempted to contact local and state officials concerning her sons illness, By now other rescue workers from the 9/11 site were becoming ill, and the authorities were not acknowledging a connection between their illnesses and the conditions at the World Trade Center.
But she was ignored. The Governor of New York, George Pataki, declined to talk to her claiming "time restrictions."
James wrote, "I can’t pay my bills and work doesn’t want to acknowledge that I’m sick, depressed and disgusted … They remember the dead but don’t want to acknowledge the sick who are living."
Stephen W Smith of CBS News, who provided a good deal of the information above in his article "Tale of the 'Walking Dead,'" ( ) wrote: "Zadroga was one of many "walking dead." Estimates vary, but tens of thousands of workers and residents have reported some lingering effects from Ground Zero exposure. Of the roughly 70,000 people currently enrolled in Mount Sinai's World Trade Center health study, more than 60,000 suffer some kind of respiratory problem.
Dr. David Prezant, co-director of the New York Fire Department's World Trade Center medical program, conducted a lung function study of 13,000 firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. He said that after Sept. 11, the average breathing capacity of the people tested dropped more than 11 times the normal aging process."
"They’re just letting people die like dogs," said Joseph Zadroga. "They’re treating them like a number and letting them die."
On January 5, 2006, Joseph found the body of his son lying on his bedroom floor dead. James had prepared his daughter for his eventual death, still Linda describes Tylerlynn's reaction on that day.
"I thought he was just sleeping," Tylerann told her, "I didn't know it was going to be this soon."
The continued illnesses and deaths of 9/11 rescue workers and recovery personnel prompted members of the New York congressional delegation to ask the federal government to acknowledge the existence of Ground Zero respiratory illnesses. And in Feb of 2006 a judge okayed a class action lawsuit brought by the Ground Zero workers and to some residents, students, and office workers of Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown. The judge lambasted the EPA and it's officials, especially Christine Todd Whitman, for releasing statements claiming the air was safe to breath directly after the collapse of the Twin Towers. This set the stage for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second District to reverse his decision in 2008.
Which paved the way for Rep. Maloney (D-NY) to introduce H.R.847 - The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act 0f 2009, of which will be the topic of the next part of this post, and what was getting Jon Stewart all riled up.
James Zadroga was honored in his hometown of North Arlington, New Jersey in September of 2008. The Skyline Sports Complex was renamed the James Zadroga Soccer Field.
From that location the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center could have been seen if they had been there.
In the last part of 2013, the Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center, will certainly be seen.

To be continued.

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