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Pleading our cause

Editor's note: President Barack Obama recently signed a bill to provide aid to survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks and first responders who became ill after working in the ruins. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh said this effort shows what can happen when law enforcement, fire service and EMS work together.

I'll bet that a few of you were directly involved with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks at New York's World Trade Center. I can hope that you managed to walk away from your experience unscathed, but unfortunately I know that, despite the use of PPE and taking as many precautions as possible, many of you are experiencing long-term physical ailments as a result of the toxic exposure.

Some of you have already retired prematurely because of your disability. Most frustrating of all, you have been dealing with this for nearly 10 years, and public safety advocates have been working for nearly that long to have our federal government provide additional assistance beyond the initial care and monitoring.

The take away message is this: like Chief Thiel says on FireRescue1, we can't take anything for granted. When money is tight and the budget is simply not big enough to support all programs, we have to get involved in the political process to plead our cause.

We as EMS providers have a small voice in Washington, though it's growing through the efforts of Advocates for EMS and other EMS Associations making our presence known on "the Hill." For this bill to pass it took efforts from the law enforcement, fire service and EMS. This effort shows what can happen when cooperation is the tide that raises all ships.

This act has been long overdue. I'm grateful that it happened. I'm hoping we learn from the process and apply those lessons to other issues that are really important to us as a profession.

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