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Friday 29 July 2011

First Responder Exclusion – Bang Out Of Order

Regular visitors to Zelo Street will know of the Zadroga Bill, which provided compensation for those in the emergency services who had provided first response following the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center towers. The good news was that, after some GOP filibustering, the bill passed before the legislature broke for Christmas last year.

The very bad news, however, is that there was one compromise of jaw-dropping wickedness written into the bill: it excludes cover for cancer. That’s right: many of those who selflessly waded into the dust and debris of the Twin Towers, who have suffered with the big C in the intervening years, are not eligible for compensation from the $2.8 billion fund.

Moreover, last Tuesday federal officials confirmed the exclusion, the reason given being the supposed lack of scientific evidence connecting cancer to time spent in the debris at Ground Zero. This news not only dismayed citizens meeting at Jersey City Hall yesterday evening – many of those attending were either first responders on 9/11 or were in the area in the aftermath of the towers’ collapse – but all those who had campaigned for the bill’s passage last December.

Citizens are being urged to contact their representatives in Congress to press their case, but as time passes, those most in need are suffering and dying. Some commentators have not minced words about the cancer exclusion: Jon Stewart spent a whole segment of last night’s Daily Show (not available, sadly, in the UK), titled “I thought we already dealt with this shit”, on it.

Let’s hope a little common sense is applied to the matter, and soon. People need help right now, and there must be no hiding behind forms of words as an excuse to deny them.

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