9/11 draws attention to first responders health concerns

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- As the days, months and years go by, we are still working on how to preserve the safety of our first responders.

According to CNN, 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers all perished during the initial attacks.

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However, hundreds of more died after due to illnesses caused by the attacks.

Today, 19 years later, first responders around the country are fighting for our lives and their lives too.

Safety Chief Travis Williams, of the Chattanooga Fire Department, says, “It’s an ongoing battle. There’s firefighters dying everyday of cancer suicide and after 911, it really brought forth a lot of problems with the fire service.”

In May of 2019, Governor Bill Lee signed the Barry Brady Act into law.

It is an act that covers full-time firefighters in the state of Tennessee.

It provides financial benefits to firefighters diagnosed with four certain cancers.

Battalion Chief Williams says, “It’s an education process and that’s about the best way to honor those that have fallen by moving forward and learning from things that cost them their lives and fix them for the future.”

Here in Chattanooga, firefighters have very specific protocol that they follow after a fire.

Courtesy: Chattanooga Fire Department

They even received a second set of gear to help protect them from possible cancers.

CFD also says that they send out positive bulletins to remind firefighters to take care of themselves.

“We’ll just send little reminders and educational stuff because we need it too. You know, everybody does. We are always taking care of everybody else but yourself and without self-care, you can’t really take care of everybody else”, adds Williams.

Since 9/11, fire departments across the nation have been implementing various tools such as the Brady Act, as well as amending their employee assistance program.

All of this in hopes to encourage firefighters to take care of both their physical and mental Health.