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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Developing a complete set of criteria

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Federal administrators are deciding which rescue workers will qualify for a share of the $2.78 billion Congress set aside to compensate the responders who fell ill after being exposed to ground zero toxins. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh "personally, I only know of a few folks who were on the ground, but all of them have experienced some type of physical ailment since then."

I would not want to be the federal administrator responsible for the distribution of 9/11 monies to the victims of the disaster, especially to the rescuers who are now afflicted with a variety of illnesses that have not been easy to connect to the environmental conditions at the World Trade Center.

There is bound to be a lot of emotion and vitriolic rhetoric that will surround this issue over the next few months. Diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease can be notoriously difficult to be tied to an environmental situation.

With so many people affected by the incident, the money that was allocated may be stretched thin; this makes the battle for compensation a real challenge. I'm hoping that the governing agency has or will develop a complete set of criteria to measure each claim's worth.

On the other hand, there's no amount of money that will compensate for those who have been suffering the effects of 9/11 since that day. Personally, I only know of a few folks who were on the ground, but all of them have experienced some type of physical ailment since then.

A couple have had long term, debilitating signs; one at least had to retire very early because he is no longer able to work due to a pulmonary ailment. When called upon to serve our national community, all of these folks went to work willingly and faithfully. I pray that we will be able to provide some modicum of comfort in the months and years ahead.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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