Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Colorectal Cancer - 2021 Major Health Alert in the Fire Service Community

Hitting Cancer Below the Belt Inside the Fire House - By: Mindy Conklin

An internal fire has ignited and we are sounding the alarm. According to the National Cancer Institute, the rate of colorectal cancer has doubled in the under 50 year old population.[1] A 2021 study predicts this trend may continue into the foreseeable future with colorectal cancer becoming the leading cancer-related death in people between 20-49 years of age by the year 2040. [2]

Pouring gasoline on this cancerous fire is the risk of toxic exposure for firefighters. In 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assessed nearly 30,000 fire fighters across the country to explore the possible connection between their work and the development of cancer. The study was a collaborative effort, which also included researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the University of California at Davis Department of Public Health Sciences. Their findings revealed firefighters were likely to experience more cancer, and die more frequently from those cancers, than the general U.S. population. The most prominent cancers were digestive (e.g. colorectal), respiratory, and urinary cancers. [3]

Smaller studies have also revealed firefighters to be at higher than average risk of developing cancer. So what can be done? Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HCB2) believes it all starts with awareness and offering education to enhance that understanding while delivering services to increase proactive health behaviors. HCB2 has an array of educational assets to attract the attention of community members that includes podcasts, short videos, presentations, appearances with the inflatable colon, and social media messages. We direct our services towards supporting community members susceptible to or at a higher risk of a cancer diagnosis - firefighters included. The news that colorectal cancer is on the rise is one that we can do something about! 


RESCUE SERVICE FACES RISE IN CANCER RATES
by: William J. Boger/President, Local 1568

Cancer is a very real and pervasive enemy to firefighters. The fires we used to fight were made of natural products like wood, leather and natural cloth fibers. Now, the fires we fight are filled with carcinogenic mixtures of plastics, synthetics and other chemicals. While we do a good job of protecting ourselves with gear, breathing apparatus and decontamination procedures, the toxins are unfortunately still absorbed into our bodies. In fact, cancer is now the leading cause of firefighter deaths and 66% of firefighter deaths between 2002 and 2019 were from cancer. According to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population.

HENRICO PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION
LOCAL 1568 - IAFF RICHMOND, VA 



HCB2 is nonprofit organization based in Richmond, Virginia. We are motivated to create environments where cancer is challenged to survive. It’s our purpose to see, listen, and serve in the effort to defeat colorectal cancer. Firefighters, we are coming with our hoses! Please feel free to reach out to us at hcb2.org or info@hcb2.org for further discussion and collaboration.


References

1. NCI. (2020). Why Is Colorectal Cancer Rising Rapidly among Young Adults?Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/colorectal-cancer-risingyounger-adults.

2. Rahib, L., Wehner, M.R., Matrisian, L.M. et al. (2021). Estimated Projection of US Cancer Incidence and Death to 2040. JAMA Network Open, 4(4). Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2778204.

3. CDC. (2016). Findings from a Study of Cancer Among U.S. Fire Fighters. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/pdfs/ff-cancer-factsheet-final-508.pdf.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

HANDLING JOB-RELATED TRAUMA IN THE RESCUE SERVICE

In the earliest days of Ground Zero (9/11/2001), we have all watched countless rescue workers on the pile, passionately and pointedly searching for any life in the rubble while trying to stay focused from the devastating images and emotional effects of the disaster around them.  Twenty years later, many of these same responders are sharing the after effects of their experiences both physically and psychologically- some finding great cathartic benefit in sharing, while others still struggle with their memories.

Throughout a firefighter's career, rescue calls mean racing to accidents or disasters- often including traumatic images and sensations. They are usually first on the scene of any life-threatening incident, witnessing and interacting with event-related injuries, deaths or some of the most graphic and violent accidents. According to fire training experts and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), public safety personnel are expected to witness horrific scenes in the line of duty. These professionals respond to tragic events that permeate all senses including sight, sound and smell.[1]   Repeated exposures, coupled with the immense stress of roles in emergency services, can lead to an increased risk for adverse behavioral health outcomes such as distress, worry, disturbed sleep or concentration, alterations in work function, difficulties with interpersonal relationships, increases in substance use, somatization, and depression.  [2]

Active and retired responders comment on the "limited training offered to adequately prepare public safety professionals to process trauma." What training and experience does not provide is the individual's ability to sustain the part of the human condition to reinforce one's internal defenses and ability to heal.  Each traumatic experience (where rescue calls do not end well) contains its own unique elements that can shock or surprise the system.  These traumatic elements have a tendency to carry latent or cumulative effects, which adds to the challenge of treating them as disorders (ie. PTSD, substance abuse, depression etc)

RE-EVALUATING "SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP"
Bar none, rescue responders are a unique breed of caregiver, selflessly dedicated to acting on a call to save lives.  Their professional heightened focus to the rescue response can often occur at the cost of THEIR OWN personal safety.  The "toughness" that comes with the job is one that is fostered in part from within, but is also largely enforced by the strong camaraderie and collective support of their  fellow team members. 

But what happens when the rescue worker goes home?

"In the fire service, and also with EMS, we experience a lot of stories, but we don't usually talk about that stuff- it's all just part of the job. And that's where the problem starts", says Lt. Chris Conner of the Bedford (TX) Fire Dept. "It's a lot like being a soldier at war... we (literally) see everything and we just need to get battle-hardened. I can talk about witnessing someone trapped alive inside a burning car, or a baby getting thrown 100 feet out of a drunk drivers' vehicle or amputations in a building collapse- we as humans cannot be expected to just hold all these images in without some kind of backlash or even some permanent damage to the psyche like PTSD - it's just not possible.  Many firefighters got it together while on the job... then others (in their retirement) is when a lot of it collapses and the nightmares begin!"


OTHER TOPICS

- Coping Mechanisms & Endurance Training

- Collapse and Breakdown of Professional Composure

- Aftermath: The Many FLAVORS of Depression

- Diagnostic Protocols for Suicide Prevention

- Does Therapy REALLY Work?

- Medical Innovations in Mental Health Care

- It Takes a Village: Forming a Collaborative A-Team






1) https://www.usfa.fema.gov/blog/cb-030519.html

2) https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/dtac/dialogue-vol14-is1_final_051718.pdf

Sunday, July 11, 2021

OCCUPATIONAL CANCERS: AN ONCOLOGISTS’ PERSPECTIVE

INTRODUCTION
By: Dr. Robert Bard

According to the researchers and government health agencies, smoke from fires and SOOT (or particulate matter) can contain many different types of toxic compounds including: 

- Aldehydes
- Acid gases
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen oxides
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- Benzene, toluene, styrene, metals and dioxins

Exposure to these compounds have a high probability of causing cancer. There continue to exist many HIDDEN DANGERS to inhaling or digesting fire smoke, and physical contact with toxic particulates. Fire departments these days are implementing a wide range of safety protocols including required cleaning of their gear and all surfaces that they come into contact with because extended exposures to these chemicals throughout a firefighter’s career can lead to cancer down the road.


JOB-RELATED CANCERS By: Dr. Ben Ho Park

The more we follow and the more we learn, the more we recognize that there are both short and long term exposures and risks that lead to diseases like cancer- some of which won't manifest for many years.  An example of this is the airline industry where smoke used to always be present and second-hand smoke led to the realization that that was a carcinogen for airline attendants. Similarly speaking for firefighters, the initial exposure to smoke and all the other potential carcinogens can lead to damage in the lungs and the whole upper aero-digestive track as we call it. But in the long run things like cancer and perhaps even other lung diseases may arise as part of accumulative effects of those exposures that may seen again decades later.

As things burn, chemical modifications happen. Things that don't normally exist together now are made to synthesize using fire or heat.  When this happens, there's further opportunities that any one of these new combinations that are synthesized from the heat and all these other chemicals mixing together could in fact be even more potent carcinogens. The fact that this can often take years before it manifests as diseases like cancer is actually very consistent with what we know on how cancers form.  Cancers don't happen overnight and the DNA damage that leads to cancer actually has to happen very slowly over years because cancer isn't just one DNA mistake in a cell-- it's actually multiple DNA mistakes in the same cell. It takes several years- often leading to a decade or more before it manifests into something that we clinically can detect as a tumor.

ON RECURRENCE
Through surgery or non-invasive procedures, we have the ability to remove all the cancer. On the other hand, cases have proven that microscopic cells may be left behind and those are ultimately the cells that could grow back and become metastatic recurrence. Oncologists make decisions based upon past clinical data about which patients would carry those microscopic cells after surgery or radiation. Meanwhile, options are available called systemic therapies, which includes hormone therapies and chemotherapies, but should recurrence occur, they may return in a variety of forms or locations in the body with varying levels of aggressiveness.  One could probably assess that if you have an aggressive form of prostate cancer, then the chances or likelihood of having microscopic cells left behind is greater. And that those are ultimately the cancers that will recur faster.


PREDICTING CANCER
It's not unusual that you could actually see toxins  get absorbed systemically through the lungs and may wind up becoming a carcinogen to another organ - regardless of its first contact. Once it hits the bloodstream, anything is fair game in terms of susceptibility.  Various possibilities for this include  micro-environmental factors; as an example, when one thinks about the breast cancer susceptibility genes [BRCA 2], those who have inherited the mutation would have that mutation in every single cell in their body. But predominantly the cancers that occur, at least in women are going to be breast and ovarian cancers. It's because of the interplay between the local environment or micro-environment, and the actual carcinogenic insult to the DNA.

Diagnostic technologies continue to improve, and arming our first responders with these portable field scanners is innovation that are now being pursued.  In addition, implementing more regular screening and early detection scans for firefighters is ideal because of increased risk and exposure.  Historical comparison shows progress is certainly evident when it comes to frequent testing for active and retired firefighters. The best way protect firefighters with prevention is to catch it earliest – where there is the highest probability of a cure.  


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Saturday, July 3, 2021

VIDEO REVIEW: A RETURN TO ZERO

By “Cousin” Sal Banchitta (RET FDNY)

  

20 years of 9/11 is coming at us fast.  

To many, it really feels like just yesterday.

This video celebrates the dedicated work and creative brilliance of Andrea Booher, world class photographer from FEMA. I was called by the producers to review her catalog of 9/11 work and give my feedback on the selections for this project. Her body of work is extensive and truly remarkable, and selecting a limited few for this presentation was both an honor and a major challenge.  

Seeing the production come together, I find these photos to be priceless gems in our world history.  They hold the task of helping us heal and turn the page from living the tragedy and (many of us even) lost others to illness or mental health.  But to recover and endure is an essential part of continuing with our lives and be empowered. 

The selection of photos after 20 years showed the most tasteful representation of the resilience of the American people and especially of New York City by showing that we have recovered and gone forward.  I personally don't need to see any more images of planes hitting the towers anymore (we have those images burned in our memories enough)- and I personally don't need to see individual pain and suffering. Andrea's images have a cinematic way about them- like a single frame in a feature film.  Of course they record history, but each photo seems to have a way of speaking to us that there is a "next" (or hope) after all this- and that this is not the end. Each image feels like a line in a poem that is part of a larger story that promises a reveal.  By presenting 2001 sandwiched with footage from 2021 (the aftermath) makes complete sense, leading our present day as an uplifting message of strength and spirit.

Concluding the photo showcase was Chief Bobby (Halton)- generously sharing his own experiences about and around 9/11. As a natural leader and communicator, Chief Halton delivered with candor, sincerity and compassion that really brought everything together for anyone personally affected - and whose memories are forever marred by ground zero.  Many in the fire service finds him to be the most relatable voice for the people, and he did not disappoint when speaking about a topic so heavy and emotional as the 9/11 attacks both then and now. 

Contrasting yesterday with today, Andrea’s stunning photographs captured and preserved time, and all the feelings that came with it. Beyond the terrible tragedy, it's important to learn from the past and go forward to the future for the next generations.  It drives us to accept the positives and the negatives in better perspective of what really transpired during those very difficult times and this horrendous attack on our country. Somebody mentioned to me once that the generation of the fire service who operated at that scene were trained for normal fire operating procedures, we were never train for a missile attack on a structure like a high rise building.  How were we supposed to fight a fire or an emergency with an inbound missile hitting a building?  Those planes (make no doubt about it) were missiles. So I think that we can learn from our past, and if we’re smart enough to learn from our past, it makes us stronger as a people.

Having the new freedom tower as the aftermath to all that destruction with its beauty and pride is a powerful uplift for the community. I recall there being a lot of controversy about building another high rise tower-  but I'm glad to have our beautiful symbol of pride and spectacular resilience. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

2021 Firefighters Cancer Awareness- Where are we now?

 

ABOUT THE VIDEO NARRATOR

CHIEF HALTON: A most unique and inspiring speaker with his experience-driven insight and compassionate approach to engaging the "SALTY" society. Retired from professional service, Chief Halton continues to serve his community as a volunteer firefighter at the fire protection district #2 in Limestone, Oklahoma.  Chief Halton is currently editor-in-chief of Fire Engineering magazine & other major publications and is education director of the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC). He began his career in structural firefighting with the Albuquerque Fire Department and rose through the ranks to include chief of training. Bobby was chief of operations until his retirement from Albuquerque in 2004. He then became chief of the Coppell (TX) Fire Department, Bobby left Coppell to assume the duties as editor in chief of Fire Engineering Magazine. (see above video)



"GET CHECKED NOW!"- Personal Sustainability in the Fire Service

Driven by the profound voices of firefighters (retired and active), the NY Cancer Resource Alliance and F.A.C.E.S. Foundation launched new community resources to support cancer awareness, prevention and early detection. This year, the two organizations united to break new ground in public education and clinical support, with the help of a few remarkable new friends. 

On a recent interview with oncologist, Dr. Ben Ho Park of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we discussed occupational hazards in the fire service as well as other high-risk professions.

MODERN FIRES, COMPLEX CONTAMINANTS & LATENCY CANCER PERIODS
As things burn, toxic compounds are formed- and 9/11 was a particularly great reference for this. First responders were heavily exposed to modified chemicals, where materials that safely coexisted in normal conditions are (now) set at high temperatures- forming new compounds that are active and potentially potent carcinogens.  

Occupational cancer claims have been upended due to the lengthy response time for most cancers to develop in the body. From time of exposure (or multiple exposures), it often take years before genetic mutation fully manifest itself.  Cancers never happen overnight, and the DNA damage that leads to cancer actually has to happen very slowly over years.  Cancer isn't just one DNA mistake in a cell; it's actually multiple DNA mistakes in the same cell and again, it takes several years for the mutation to occur, often leading to a decade or more before it manifests into something that we clinically can detect as a tumor. 

RECURRENCE
The short Reader's Digest version about this goes as follows; surgically, we are certainly able to take out all the cancer. We can scan the originating site, but it doesn't mean that there aren't microscopic cells left behind and those are ultimately the cells that will grow back and become metastatic recurrence. And so my job as a medical oncologist is to make decisions based upon past clinical data of who is more likely to have those microscopic cells after surgery or radiation. Depending on the case, we cure more patients by giving them additional systemic therapies like hormone therapies and chemotherapies. What we don't know is whether or not everyone has those microscopic cells or what state of activity they are in. Also, there are different types of cancers; ie. prostate cancer and breast cancer- some are more aggressive than others. So certainly one could probably put together that if you have an aggressive form of prostate cancer under the microscope, and this is again in the prostate gland itself, then the chances or likelihood of having microscopic cells left behind is greater. And that those are ultimately the cancers that will recur faster. 

CANCER PROBABILITY
The risk of cancer in firefighters is said to be significantly greater than in the general population. [1]   Recent data shows that the top cancers from male firefighters are Prostate at 13.7%, Skin at 8.4%, Colon is 7.1%,  Bladder is at 6.9% and Testicular is 5.5%. [2] Conclusive theories dictate that firefighters who were exposed to particular types of smoke (ie. carcinogenic) are contaminated through skin, oral or respiratory cavity.  Once it hits the bloodstream, really anything is fair game in terms of susceptibility and getting exposed to carcinogens. And then it becomes really the question of  "why does it occur in the bladder vs. the colon?" That's a tougher question to answer, but we do know that there are local micro environmental factors that come into play. As an example, when one thinks about the breast cancer susceptibility genes, (BRCA2) those who have inherited this mutation, every single cell in their body has that mutation, but predominantly the cancers that occur, at least in women are going to be breast and ovarian cancers. And that's not to be because those are the organs that are most exposed to estrogens. So there is are kind of interplay between the local environment or micro-environment, and the actual carcinogenic 'insult' to the DNA.

EXPANDING DIAGNOSTIC INNOVATIONS
Tracking, screening and monitoring cancers plays a major role in building the treatment strategy. Technologies like MRI's, Pet-CT scans and advanced ultrasounds are often used on the imaging side, while tissue biopsies are also part of the current gold standard from the lab side. 
One of the areas of research interests that my colleagues and I have is the use of what's known as LIQUID BIOPSIES- a form of blood test designed to look and see whether a patient has early signs/stages of cancer. This is still something that is in infancy and nobody really has proven that one way is better than the other.  There are a growing number of companies and academic institutions that are starting to really roll this out with the hopes of giving people a simple blood tests that shows that they have a cancer somewhere.  Someday, we could actually catch things very, very early and affect a higher rate of cure. I don't think we're quite there yet for everyone, but I think we're getting closer every day and really through research and help and volunteers like the firefighters we're going to make a big impact in the next 10 years 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BEN HO PARK, MD, Ph.D. Professor of Medicine & Director of Precision Oncology in Vanderbilt University Medical Center.   Dr. Park was recently elected to join the medical advisory board for the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and the NY Cancer Resource Alliance. He is often called to present in educational venues about a wide range of critical topics in cancer diagnostics and treatment.  His most recent appointment is as a technical advisor for Occupational Cancers in the Fire Service- a national program co- designed by NYCRA and F.A.C.E.S. Foundation. (also see above video)

References:

1) Source: NFPA: Firefighters and cancer: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Resources/Emergency-Responders/Health-and-Wellness/Firefighters-and-cancer

2) FCSN: https://firefightercancersupport.org/resources/faq/



F.A.C.E.S. SPOTLIGHT: THE VOICES OF FIREFIGHTER'S CANCER AWARENESS


"Cousin" SAL BANCHITTA: is Assoc. Communications Dir. to local FD. After a profound 20+ year career in the NY Fire Department, "Cousin" Sal gave all at the fire service- including his last assignment as one of the first responders in Ground Zero (9/11). He considers the firefighter "the first and last line of defense to protect all the members of the community from any catastrophe". His next personal crusade past fire calls is to share his own experiences and his research on the many cancer cases found "from the job" to drive his brethren to heed NYCRA's cancer prevention message of "Get Checked Now!" Sal continues to volunteer as a speaker in firehouses and FF meetings, contributing his unique presentation style and counseling approach known only as "FROM THE KITCHEN"- a parlance between firefighters. 

ROBERT L. BARD, MD - F.A.C.E.S. Senior Medical Advisor/Cancer Diagnostic Specialist. It is a specialized science and a honed craft to read (and predict) cancer behavior in real time through imaging. Dr. Bard attributes his career in radiology to the US Air Force, having served in military hospitals in Thailand and Laos in the early ‘70’s. His expertise was founded on the critical demands for immediate response and real-time diagnostic implementation of scanning technologies where time and accuracy are of the ultimate essence. His critical eye for the many medical imaging devices to the 'battle hardened' challenges of a military hospital setting is also a main asset as a "cancer detective". Having worked with countless military patients, to first responders (including many from 9/11 rescue units), Dr. Bard's record as a medical leader in cancer diagnostics is an asset to the fight against cancer. 

DANNY NOONAN: A National Safety Advocate and NYCRA Educational Ambassador, Mr. Noonan's career started in Ladder Company 3 on East 13th street where only two years into the fire service, he experienced one of the most historical and devastating fires in the history of NYC Fire Department. He has since been an advocate for the 699 firefighters who responded to the Telephone Company Fire. His countless presentations and published work continues to raise education, awareness and prevention for all emergency responders about occupational toxic exposures and incendiary airborne toxicities and carcinogens. His presentations include valuable references from 9/11 and the 1975 NY Tel Exchange Fire, what many consider the second most deadly and costliest in the long history of the FDNY.



2001- Andrea Booher overlooks Ground Zero from
rooftop vantage point
Historical Photo Gallery & 9/11 20th Anniversary Retrospective

Since the advent of 9/11, global campaigns drove the "NEVER FORGET" mantra that defined the voice of our post-attack era. This mission of public awareness covered headlines from political, social, educational and news platforms. For this crusade to capture the minds of the global witness, messengers used FILM, VIDEO and PHOTOGRAPHY to spread the thousand-words cemented by history and shared with lightning speed throughout today's digital audiences.

The NY Cancer Resource Alliance, the F.A.C.E.S. Foundation and MOVEMBER hosts the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a special NYCRA-NEWS memorial issue. We proudly feature the powerful and most compelling images of world recognized photographer ANDREA BOOHER - film producer and photojournalist. Ms. Booher has worked as a documentarian for twenty-six years. Based in Colorado, her assignments have taken her to East Africa, Latin America, Micronesia, India, Antarctica, Australia, Myanmar, Somalia, Mexico and Haiti. In the last two decades she has photo-documented every major disaster in the United States, Trust Territories and Sovereign Nations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Her documentary work resides in several permanent collections, including the National Archives and the Smithsonian. In 2001, she spent 10 weeks working at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center attack. She was one of two photographers working for FEMA with unlimited access. Her work from 9-11 has been published in magazines, newspapers and documentaries worldwide. She was personally profiled on A &E , The History Channel, CNN, Camera Arts, NPR and Photo District News. (Click to see "RETURNING TO ZERO"- our 2021 9/11 Retrospective)


THE 2021 F.A.C.E.S. UNITE PROJECT
Firefighters Against Cancer & Exposures is a national association comprised of active and retired firefighters, cancer advocates, medical professionals, educators and patient advocates united to provide a wide range of supportive resources. These resources are available to any and all first responders in need of assistance. Our members are committed to the continued extension of help to the many who have sacrificed all in the line of duty of the fire service.









Thursday, May 27, 2021

Celebrating Rescue Photographers

Since the advent of 9/11, global campaigns drove the "NEVER FORGET" mantra that defined the voice of our post-attack era. This mission of public awareness covered headlines from political, social, educational and news platforms. For this crusade to capture the minds of the global witness, messengers used FILM, VIDEO and PHOTOGRAPHY to spread the thousand-words cemented by history and shared with lightning speed throughout today's digital audiences.

The First Responders Cancer Resource (formerly 9/11 CancerScan) published countless feature articles on prevention, early detection and reports about occupational health disorders within the fire service- in response to the rising cases of cancer from the WTC attacks. Thanks to the historical archives of the 9/11 World Trade Center Memorial and Museum, we gained exclusive access to some of the most remarkable works by photographers like KEVIN COUGHLIN (Pulitzer Prize-sharing photojournalist), ROBERTO RABANNE and ANDREA BOOHER - whose timeless photographs continue to grace the many pages of 9/11 related historical presentations. These images greatly fostered first hand experiences of the rescue service community during that time.

"Rescue photography is a powerful topic in documentaries", states Dr. Robert Bard, photography art collector and a long time funding supporter of NYC museums. "It is a golden responsibility for all archivalists, publishers and curators to preserve never-before seen images from unique and remarkable vantage points of any historical event.  These treasures freeze time to preserve elements of our culture, our awareness and understanding ... and sharing tangible visual records is a storytelling commitment to all generations.  They are priceless nuggets of visual narrative and evidence of important occurrences gone past - especially in cases like the collection of prints of 9/11 photos."

"HISTORY IS ETERNAL": FDNY Portrait Archivist - Looking back at the massive collection of photos in his personal vault, Chief Bob Checco assembled this priceless treasure trove of experiences, stories and photographic portraits about many of the retired firefighters of New York in one globally-accessible set of galleries (see: www.FDPixGallery.com). Thanks to his remarkable memory for the many names and faces in this tremendous collection of never-before-published photos, we can finally enjoy coursing through the generations of FD history as far back as his 'probie' years when he snapped that first shot in 1958. This is Chief Checco's gift to the surviving members of the FDNY and their families


Fire Service Documentarians: Capturing the Rescue Call
Thanks to a recent partnership between NYCRANEWS.com and F.A.C.E.S. (Firefighters Against Cancer & Exposures), we are working to establish the National Firefighters Image Gallery to honor the works of American photo and film documentarians of rescue calls and disasters.  We celebrate their talents, courage and unique support of our responders in action, facing all hazards to maintain the safety of the community. These unsung photo correspondents provide the global audience with front line access and an their unique perspective with each shot. Their priceless work spans a wide set of applications including educational training, technical tours, records of fire events and news footage and clips for social media publishing.

Many are part of the fire service, capturing dramatic visual records of each fire call, while others. In our updated feature, we will be showcasing the works of our first recent "firefighter lensman" Mr. BEN SALADINO, resident case photographer for the Bedford Fire Dept. in Bedford, TX. 

"As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with the fire service. I suspect some of that comes from watching the TV show, Emergency! when I was growing up. I also love bicycling, and ended up working in the bicycle industry instead of the fire service. However, since my teenage years, I’ve listened to first responders on radio scanners. Somewhere along the way, I got into photography, and started photographing fire apparatus. I started my website D/FW Fire Equipment News to share my photos and information about new fire apparatus in the area. Eventually, I managed to form some good relationships with the local fire departments and was granted access to fire scenes to photograph. I’ve truly enjoyed the opportunities in recent years to help document the work of first responders, especially in the fire service. I realize that many events I photograph are very tragic for the victims and first responders, but I hope that good may still come from my photos for training, history, public education, and more."

The concept of this gallery is to unite the historical impact and cultural preservation of the fire service while celebrating rescue members within all angles of active service.  The collection is a pictorial experience during the height of response calls amidst the monumental challenges of all forms of adversity (from environmental hazards to destruction and potential toxic exposures). These responders forge the spirit of service to support the safety of the community as shown in this set of photographic artifacts assembled from many areas of our nation's best.

It is also noted that Dr. Bard is a renowned cancer radiologist who dedicated a major part of his practice to occupational cancers launched by 9/11 responders. He has expanded this program to support all firefighters' health issues and has been recently elected as Chief Medical Advisor to the national firefighters foundation called F.A.C.E.S. (Firefighters Against Cancer and Exposures) where images of responders in action inspire his continued research, advocacy and public educational programs for prevention and early detection.  In addition, Dr. & Mrs. Bard will be lead curators for the 2022 F.A.C.E.S. National Firefighter Image Gallery and an international auction is in talks with a major auction house for some of the top prints from "a century of the fire service in pictures".


Monday, April 26, 2021

Meet HEATHER MAZURKIEWICZ - Florida's Firefighter Cancer Crusader

INTRODUCTION - By: Lennard Gettz, Cheri Ambrose & the F.A.C.E.S. writing team

Finding leadership, compassion and a deep level of commitment are just a few models of character to be found in the society of Cancer Foundations-- and even more in Firefighters Cancer Support organizations.  Lt. Chris Conner of F.A.C.E.S. (Firefighters Against Cancer and Exposures) felt the calling to do more for his brethren as an active first responder when he witnessed a rising number of firefighters passing away from cancer.  "Cousin" Sal Banchitta retired shortly after 9/11 and counted a collection of prayer cards from every cancer-related funeral that shaped his personal mission with the NY Cancer Resource Alliance to form the 9/11 CancerScan.

In March 5, 2021, Dr. Robert Bard, NYC Cancer Diagnostic Specialist and Chief Medical Advisor of F.A.C.E.S. visited Naples, Fla as part of what he called his 'southern pilgrimage' to connect with their medical society.  That's where he met with Mr. Kevin Dolan, CEO of the Cancer Alliance of Naples and other org leaders who outlined the who's who in cancer crusaders.  A name that continued to arise was HEATHER MAZURKIEWICZ for her Firefighters Cancer advocacy work in the North Collier Fire Control Rescue District.  She is also a lead ambassador for the Firefighters Cancer Support Network (FCSN) covering the entire State of Florida's fire service community.

Dr. Bard endorsed this story as part of a national review of departmental initiatives supporting first responders exposure to cancer. This feature interview with Ms. Mazurkiewicz details her dedicated initiative to bring an elevated level of support to Florida firefighters, and shall stand as a legislative model for fire departments nationwide.



" THE ULTIMATE CALLING"- by Heather Mazurkiewicz 

In 2013, I won a ride-along with my local fire department and it was that day that changed my life.  I ended up quitting my CEO job and going through the fire Academy at 45 years old. I just fell in love with the fire department. 

I have a pretty extensive background with regard to legislative activities, and when I did my ride along, I learned from the crew that the state of Florida was one of the few States that did not cover cancer for firefighters. I realized that I probably wouldn't end up on a fire truck at 45 years old, so I thought the best thing that I could do was to fight for legislation to have cancer covered.

Roughly two years ago, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis actually signed the bill that allows for cancer coverage for Florida's firefighter. We worked for several years to get that coverage. If certain criteria is met, it can help firefighters that are already on the job, but will also help firefighters from the day that it was signed on July, 2019.

We needed a holistic way to look at the issue; it wasn't just that we needed the legislature to recognize the fact that cancer is the number one killer of firefighters, and that we needed them to be able to provide the coverage for the occupational disease of cancer for these firefighters.  But it was critical that the coverage also had to be there  as line of duty deaths- so that if the firefighter did pass away, the benefits extended to the family left behind.  Part of my work was also to educate firefighters about what they need to be doing in this type of crisis. 

A common finding is that when a firefighter is diagnosed, it's often an extremely aggressive form of that cancer. Because of this, my new goal is to work with  doctors to advance testing capacity and faster response time- where a couple of weeks wait is just not acceptable. I just have way too many stories about firefighters diagnosed and had passed away within 10 days or two weeks with no previous symptoms.

FULL SPEED AHEAD
The cancer legislation that was passed was for 21 cancers. But I've had two or three that I know of personally who have passed away from pancreatic cancer, which is not one of the cancers that's covered. So we want to be able to ADD more cancers to the list. Obviously, preventive education must continue within the fire service- from the Academy level, all the way up to retirees.  We believe the retirement generation deserves a life expectancy to be the same as everyone else. They worked hard for that pension... let's make sure they enjoy it. 

Maintaining and expanding the coverage is the priority. Within the legislation every year, we need to continue programs like the University of Miami's Firefighter Cancer Initiative. [1] Visit: https://umiamihealth.org

This funding is crucial for all kinds of studies that specific to firefighters exposures. Also, there are many smaller departments that might not have the revenue or the finances to be able to purchase (say) an extractor or a second sets of gear. We started a program around 2018 through other organizations like  the Florida State Fire Marshal's office, the Chief Financial Officer's office, the FCSN and The Firefighter's Health and Safety Collaborative. We all came together and we developed these buckets, and they are five gallon buckets that you have, but within that bucket are things that a firefighter will need to be able to perform gross decon. There's a hose, adapters, everything that you would need to perform gross econ and we put together over 4,000 of those buckets and distributed them to departments. They had to apply for the grant with the goal of wanting to get one of those buckets on every piece of apparatus within the state of Florida- so that everybody could (at a bare minimum) be able to perform gross deacon after any kind of fire.  This includes a dumpster fire, car fire structure fire etc.  They would have the capability to perform that gross decon.

EPILOGUE
Heather continues to work full time as the Public Information Officer at North Collier Fire Control Rescue District (FLA).  She connects with the community at large, overseeing all fire safety programs, public health education efforts, basic emergency response training and a FEMA based training program called C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).  Beyond her duties at the N. Collier Fire Dist., Heather also maintains her comprehensive state-wide educational projects for all firefighters as the assistant state director for The Firefighter Cancer Support Network.  Heather's public initiatives and notoriety are well recognized and often self-promoting to neighboring townships and counties throughout the state. 


References:
2) Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Firefighter Cancer Benefits Bill https://www.flgov.com/2019/05/03/governor-ron-desantis-signs-firefighter-cancer-benefits-bill/
3) C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team: https://www.ready.gov/cert


Unending Battle in Multiple Fronts to Help ALL Responders
by: Dr. Robert L. Bard 

Just this week, I had three firefighters in my office scanned for unique cancers. They usually come to me for a second opinion and they hear about technologies that I employ that are not the typical template diagnostic solutions.  As with all my patients, my medical care and support comes in the form of a deeper analysis through an INTEGRATIVE paradigm.  This means I use a wider set of resources and collaborators than most cancer teams (both foreign and domestic) to identify and validate cancers.  I also spend time with each patient by educating them on their exact situation, sharing technical information about the latest solutions/technologies - and exploring the 'many answers to cancer' -- and there are truly MANY (more).

As for my recent firefighters, we learned from 9/11 about the "dormant" cancers that seem to trend in appearance and recurrence. Toxicologists also found newly formed compounds from big fires that are (now) to blame for activating physiological reactions and illnesses- often found in retired rescue workers.  I am grateful for the WTC health program, the Victims Compensation Fund and other government backed initiatives to support these victims- but what about the rest of the fire service?

Having learned about Ms. Mazurkiewicz and her journey, I applaud her and all those out there that are driven by this calling.  I can relate to her attraction to the fire service, then advocating cancer coverage on a statewide level.  My inspiration to this similar mission was rooted as far back as  my days in the military (1971) where Agent Orange sparked my work as a "cancer detective".  Geographically, my radiology office is centralized in midtown Manhattan where my door became well recognized by my friends at the FD since the days of the big disaster 1975 NY Tel Exchange Fire.  But the work, as I see it today is a much bigger arena.  It is not only about NY anymore - it is for and about ALL firefighters.

In the words of "Dapper" Dan Noonan - ret. FDNY, "there are many fires... it's OUR duty to stay on top of them all!"



EXTRA

Diagnosis and Treatment Solutions of Inhaled Toxins
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are usually non-specific. In patients with unclear neurological symptoms and possible exposure, carbon monoxide should be urgently considered as a differential diagnosis. The treatment aims in particular to prevent long-term harms, such as cortical dysfunction, Parkinson‘s syndrome, Parkinson‘s disease, dementia, cardiac complications, as well as reduce mortality in the long term. All patients with symptomatic carbon monoxide poisoning should be treated with 100% oxygen as soon as possible. In severe cases of fire fume intoxication, combined poisoning with CO and cyanides should be considered. The evidence for the benefit advantage of hyperbaric oxygen is weak in view of the heterogeneity of the available studies. The decision in favor of HBOT seems sensible in severe CO intoxication or in pregnant women. (see complete article)



FFCNN Highlights: Firefighter Cancer Network News

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEW CREW OF F.A.C.E.S. 2.0 - Firefighters Against Cancer & Exposures( F.A.C.E.S. ) is founded by Christopher Conner of Bedford, TX. As a first responder, Chris established a community of resources dedicated to helping firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer. Originally established as a charitable foundation, the 2021 version of FACES aligns with the strength of all cancer orgs, cancer resources and first responder groups to collectively bring public support and aid to our heroes in all ways possible. New supporters include: Integrative Cancer Resource Alliance, Cheri Ambrose, President of the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, Mindy Conklin, President of Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (Colorectal Cancer), and a growing list of allies in the firefighter support community and the national society of cancer foundations. Firefighters and their families dedicate their lives and lifestyles to save others; it is our turn to help them. Heroum Animas Salvas. Save the Lives of Heroes. 


April 4, 2021 - The Integrative Cancer Resource Alliance launches the first virtual town-hall style video meeting called The 2021 Cancer PowerMeet series. This interactive event is part of a set of panel-driven meetings covering the topics of OCCUPATIONAL TOXIC EXPOSURES and SURVIVORSHIP AFTER THE JOB - with a list of prominent guests from the Medical and First Responders' communities. Headliners for this event include nationally recognized spokesman for fire safety and fire rescue veteran from the 1975 NY Tel Fire & 9/11 DAN NOONAN. Alongside Mr. Noonan is 35+ year cancer medical imaging professor DR. ROBERT BARD (NYC) + associate director of the First Responders Cancer Resource Group and active duty responder in 9/11 Sal Banchitta. Together, they all share their powerful experiences about notable disasters in history, answering targeted questions from a panel of top members in the cancer care community steering public awareness and education about prevention and early detection as part of I.C.R.A.'s "Get Checked Now!" program. (SEE ARTICLE & VIDEO - LINK)


WELCOME TO THE CRUSADERS FAMILY:  This month, we met Dena Delbert Plummer, president and Firefighter Advocate in the Fight Against Cancer from Mabank, TX. Her group is called FlameKeepers, supporting public education and safety/prevention seminars in firehouses.  Flame Keeper’s is also a support group for spouses and family who have lost their Firefighter or are currently going through this occupational hazard. They have monthly meetings offering support and information to help with understanding the battle at hand. This group is a sounding board for department and legislators on changes that need to be made. (Click to Join the FlameKeepers Linkedin group - it's Free!)


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Friday, April 16, 2021

Going Global with Firefighters Cancer Advocacy: F.A.C.E.S. 2.0

One year after the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11, I founded the NY Cancer Resource Alliance with my "GET CHECKED NOW!" campaign for the many people I personally knew who were not very proactive about checkups and health monitoring as far as cancers (and there were many).  In my journey with Cousin "Sal" Banchitta (ret FDNY) speaking in firehouses and FF groups about cancer,  my interest was always in finding and reaching more of them. Years of face to face meetings became web conferences- allowing a local initiative to go national rather quickly.

But it wasn't until I met Lt. Chris Conner, president and founder of F.A.C.E.S. (Firefighters Against Cancer & Exposures) that I found the next chapter of my benevolence work.  From Bedford Texas, Chris has been implementing his own version of rescue to firefighters in need (from Cancer) as a charitable fund. Chris was the first FF org to endorse my documentary film "The Fire Still Burns" and supported all of NYCRA's initiatives as far as public outreach, cancer research support, education and all the work that typical cancer orgs do- but targeted to firefighters.

By 2021, Covid changed the shape of fundraising, advocacy and education - forcing everyone to go virtual. This leveraged our cancer networking message (through social media) to connect with doctors and survivors from Italy, the UK, Greece, Russia, Japan, the Netherlands and Italy.

On 3/31, NYCRA kicked off the first Cancer PowerMeet through Zoom and it was a great success. Our first topic was about Occupational Cancers from the Fire Service combining a panel of presenters from the retired FF community + cancer experts.  F.A.C.E.S. was one of our supporters in this as one of the national FF groups that helped us get the word out.

This got the attention of the medical societies and the public service community both domestically and abroad!  Overnight, we racked up hundreds of hits and commenters from many languages. The same global audience for our international cancer publishing is now reading our stuff about firefighters cancer.

In a matter of days, we organically merged 2 platforms together to form F.A.C.E.S. 2.0. (with a new website, www.Facing-Together.org). This brand allowed us to kick off new Firefighter E-events and reach the entire community on a much wider scale.  NYCRA (as in New York) became I.C.R.A. (Integrative Cancer Resource Alliance) the same week- shifting us out of our local platform.  But Chris made thousands of new friends overnight, introduced all our cancer advocates, educators, clinicians and medical researchers plus our combined resources from all the cancer orgs who are all supportive of Firefighters Cancers.

As ALLIANCES go, finding synergy is never easy. But once you do, you can build magic!

Now the work begins!



WHAT IS F.A.C.E.S. ?

The desire to extend a helping hand to those in need is in all of us- especially when someone's health or physical well being is at risk. FIREFIGHTERS lead this spirit of responding to a call for rescue during times of crisis or disaster. BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A RESPONDER NEEDS HELP?

Leading the global front of this helping hand means searching for all available RESOURCES. FACES bands together as a community to form a solid support resource system between all cancer organizations and firefighter support groups.

FIREFIGHTERS AGAINST CANCER & EXPOSURES ( F.A.C.E.S. ) is founded by Christopher Conner of Bedford, TX. As a first responder, Chris established a community of resources dedicated to helping firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer. Originally established as a charitable foundation, the 2021 version of FACES aligns with the strength of all cancer orgs, cancer resources and first responder groups to collectively bring public support and aid to our heroes in all ways possible. Firefighters and their families dedicate their lives and lifestyles to save others; it is our turn to help them. Heroum Animas Salvas. Save the Lives of Heroes. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Occupational Toxic Exposures from Burn Pits vs. Illnesses from the Fire Service

A BURN PIT is a method of garbage disposal in military bases (identified in Iraq and Afghanistan) where all waste is burned in a large pit in open air using combustible agents such as diesel fuel.  All refuse is incinerated here- from medical and human waste to plastics and rubber to environmental hazards like styrofoam, ammunition petroleum products.  The end result of burning these items + the use of incendiary agents like diesel and jet fuel have resulted in airborne concentrations of black smoke within the immediate area that have been recognized to cause respiratory issues to those exposed.

By January 17, 2019, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Burn Pits Accountability Act (HR 663) to the House or Representatives - Armed Services & Veterans' Affairs Committees. This bill required the Department of Defense (DOD) and the military departments to evaluate whether each member of the Armed Forces has been (1) based or stationed where an open air burn pit was used to dispose of waste, or (2) exposed to toxic airborne chemicals. Members located where an open burn pit was used or exposed to toxic airborne chemicals must be enrolled in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, unless the member elects not to enroll. [1]

The effects of Burn Pits are being compared to other known military health cases like the wide exposure to Agent Orange from Viet Nam- as well as the many cancer cases caused by disasters like 9/11.  According to Chisolm Chisolm & Kilpatrick, a prominent law firm representing veterans health issues, "...Unlike exposure to Agent Orange, VA does not consider any disabilities presumptively associated with exposure to burn pit smoke.  Therefore, post-9/11 veterans filing claims for service connection must obtain a medical opinion stating that their condition is at least as likely as not a result of their exposure to burn pit smoke.  VA adjudicates burn pit claims on a case-by-case basis in which the decision is based on the facts unique to each claim.  However, post-9/11 veterans exposed to burn pits do in fact suffer from disabilities entitled to presumptive service connection because they were exposed to an herbicide agent as defined by VA under 38 CFR § 3.307(a)(6).  Here, VA defines herbicide agent specifically as “2,4-D; 2,4,5-T and its contaminant TCDD; cacodylic acid, and picloram”.  TCDD is the unfortunate byproduct in the production of 2,4,5-T, one of the two herbicides in Agent Orange.  Nevertheless, it is also a byproduct of incomplete combustion of certain harmful substances such as those disposed of in the burn pits, as indicated above." [2]


VA has determined that the presumption of service connection based on exposure to an herbicide agent, which includes TCDD, is warranted for any conditions for which VA acknowledges a positive association between the condition and such exposure.  Furthermore, VA has already established this positive association as it relates to many conditions, including but not limited to, diabetes mellitus type 2, ischemic heart disease, and respiratory cancers.  As a result, post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to burn pits should be afforded the same presumptions as Vietnam veterans. 


Wife of Burn Pits Victim Builds Action Response Initiative
*NYCRA Exclusive Interview with Mrs. Rosie Torres of BurnPits360 - Edited by: Cheri Ambrose

My husband is Leroy Torres, Ret. Captain of the US Army (2nd Battalion, 402nd Army Field) who served 10 years in active service.  His latest tour was 1 year spent in Balad, Iraq (2007) as Deputy Support Operations where he was constantly exposed to the toxic emissions of Burn Pits. I recall him being quarantined for respiratory issues and when he came home, we ended up at the ER due to severe flu-like respiratory episodes.  These issues continue to escalate today, resulting in chronic physical after-effects that recently forced out of his job.

With a simple Google search for "soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan/dying", stories popped up immediately including stories like a wife whose husband had died from a glioblastoma. Reading story after story brought me to Dr. Miller's article about the US Army concealing cases of Constrictive Bronchiolitis- the very lung disease my husband ended up being diagnosed with.  His report also shows an (unnamed) auto-immune disease which prompted me to reach doctors familiar with 9/11- who only had best guesses for us.

Prior to connecting with John Feal, I remember pulling up the air sampling data from 9/11 online. And then compared the V-A published policy that highlighted the dioxins from a declassified air sampling from Balad (the biggest burn pit) and found that there's around 10 or 12 that are completely the same.  Studying further reports on the mortalities and illnesses again, found identical matches. 

DIRECT AND CONSTANT PLUME EXPOSURE:
I've heard soldiers describe it as 10 acres worth of a black plume of smoke that just hovered over the whole base all day & all night - where the burn pits were situated near or next to the housing quarters. There was no area that was untouched by this plume. There was soup on the air conditioners; inside their nose; gray matter and black stuff would come out every time they would shower. This horrible stench was everywhere throughout his entire stay. All the soldiers tolerated this because "we're here to work". Leroy slept with a sheet over his face as a habit to reduce inhaling the "black stuff" while he was sleeping. This went on for an entire year with him, but for other soldiers, exposure must have been more.

I started BurnPits360 with a unique set of initiatives; we use real-time data and our own independent registry (separate from the V-A’s registry) to develop policy and legislation that will help save lives. We have direct access to those people that are sick in every congressional district and we track mortality also. Our goal is to shut down every single one of them, but we also want to help our vets at home with resources and any support that they may need.


Local Advocacy Calling for Time Sensitive Action + The WarFighters Bill

Prominent names like John Feal (FealGood Foundation) and Jon Stewart (American entertainer & political commentator) have become formidable champions in the legislative arena of 9/11 responders and cancer victims. They have taken on the fight to redefine 'awareness' to call on congressional action to secure healthcare and compensation to those who gave everything in the line of duty during the rescue and clean up efforts at the 2001 disaster. 

In the fall of 2019, this dynamic duo has been recruited by Rosie Torres of BurnPits360.org - an advocacy foundation for veterans and families affected by the health effects of Burn Pits exposures. With other powerful supporters like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a new bipartisan legislative push is underway to ensure fast-acting health response and compensation to the tens of thousands suffering linked health issues from their military service and sacrifice for this country. 

"With many Americans, the usual first reaction when they see a veteran is to say, 'thank you for your service'. As much as I myself don't say that lightly, that phrase is just something we’re all programmed to saying.  We need to modify that to “…thank you for your service and your sacrifice- What can I do to help you? How can I repay you?”  In fact, we can go further by asking “How can I give back to you for what you gave to our country?”  - states John Feal. "I'm confident that we're going to get something done by the end of this year- we're targeting veteran's day! We'd like to see all the legislation passed... it's called the WARFIGHTERS BILL. This is something that a divided country can wrap their arms around where everybody is united together. I still believe our military is one of those sacred things that the American people will get behind."

* Stay tuned for feature article on BurnPits360.org and the congressional healing on March 23, 2021 about a proposal for Burn Pits Legislation.


NEWS UPDATE
Rubio, Gillibrand Introduce Landmark Burn Pits Legislation to Help Veterans

March 26, 2021 / Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act. U.S. Representatives Raul Ruiz, M.D (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) will introduce the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would provide presumptive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to servicemembers who have deployed and have illnesses due to exposure to burn pits and other toxins. Approximately 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits that spewed toxic fumes and carcinogens into the air. “This legislation includes presumption and actually fixes this urgent and immoral issue. Anything else just delays and denies the treatment and benefits our warriors need,” said veterans advocate Jon Stewart.

Presumptive conditions include a wide range of cancers and respiratory illnesses, including: asthma, that was diagnosed after service, head cancer of any type, neck cancer of any type, respiratory cancer of any type, gastrointestinal cancer of any type, reproductive cancer of any type, lymphoma cancer of any type, lymphomatic cancer of any type, kidney cancer, brain cancer, melanoma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease, pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis.
 
The following organizations support the bill: Vietnam Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, The American Legion, Burn Pits 360, Vote Vets, Military Veterans Advocacy, Stronghold Freedom Foundation, Dixon Center, Veterans for Common Sense, Sergeant Sullivan Circle, National Veterans Legal Services Program, Warriors Project, Grunt Style, Feal Good Foundation.


Learning from the 1975 NY Tel Exchange Fire: First Major Job-Related Toxic Exposure in Firefighting History

Over 45 years ago, the first responders' community including the remaining survivors of the 1975 NY Tel Exchange Fire recalls one of the most significant disasters in firefighting history next only to 9/11.  The many health impacts from this historical event, exposing all responders also resulted in countless safety references from its many occupational hazards as well as prevention protocols and protective innovations. 

The NY Cancer Resource Alliance (NYCRA) features Ret. FDNY Ff. Dan Noonan and his contribution & sacrifice to the City of New York.  After his tenure at the fire service, Mr. Noonan pursued a life-long national crusade in safety awareness and publishing educational projects including his report about the 1975 NY Telephone Exchange Fire.  

Mr. Noonan's career started in Ladder Company 3 on East 13th street where only two years into the fire service, he experienced one of the most historical and devastating fires in the history of NYC Fire Department. He has since been an advocate for the 699 firefighters who responded to the Telephone Company Fire. His countless presentations and published work continues to raise education, awareness and prevention for all emergency responders about occupational toxic exposures-- referencing the 1975 Fire as an historical marker for incendiary airborne toxicities and carcinogens.   (See complete article)

What is "SALTY"?   A Study of Toxins from Emergent Fire Zones (originally published 7/11/2019)

TOXICOLOGY 101: A THREAT TO FIREFIGHTERS HEALTH

"In the fire service, a seasoned firefighter earns the title "salty" after having enough (ash or smoke dust) contaminants land on their protective gear.  

As part of our evaluation of all occupational illnesses contracted by first responders, we enter the world of TOXICOLOGY- the branch of science focused on the effects and detection of poisons.  It is also the discipline overlapping chemistry, biology and pharmacology- studying the adverse effects of chemical substances on living organisms.  In pursuit of first responders’ safety as far as chemical effects on the body, we connected with Professor David Purser of the Hartford Environmental Research (UK), a renowned toxicology expert who conducted major reviews on fire-exposed carcinogens published worldwide. “9/11 was unusual in that a major environmental hazard resulted from the dust cloud released as and after the Towers collapsed,” says Prof. Purser.  “The dust inhaled by responders at the time, and afterwards working at the site, has resulted in serious ongoing and developing health conditions and to this day. 

For fires in general, there is also increasing evidence and concern regarding FF exposure to carcinogens, especially from soot contamination to skin and clothing following attendance at incidents and during training.” An abstract from Prof. Purser’s latest presentation – “ Toxins Including Effects of Fire Retardants, During Fires and Post-Fire Investigation Activities” indicates a remarkable breakdown of some of the major toxins and carcinogenic compounds that the average firefighter would be exposed to.

• ASPHYXIANT GASES: CO, HCN, CO2 , low oxygen

• IRRITANTS/ ACID GASES :  HCl, HBr, HF, COF2 , H3 PO4, SO2 , NOx

• ORGANIC IRRITANTS:  acrolein, formaldehyde, crotonaldehyde, phenol, styrene

• PARTICULATES: especially ultrafine particles + metals

These toxins are usually found within active fire zones- either inside the fire event itself or downwind plume in the form of residues and soot or lethal fragments activated at high temperatures or in airborne smoke.  These asphyxiant gases, irritants and particulates are the main causes of injury and death of fire victims exposed to high concentrations inside burning buildings.  

Asphyxiant gases cause collapse with loss of consciousness during a fire, leading to death if exposure continues.  Irritants and smoke particulates cause pain to the eyes and lungs, with breathing difficulties, which inhibit escape during a fire and can lead to lung inflammation and edema within a few hours of rescue, which can also be fatal.  Those surviving may make a good recovery or suffer long term neurological or cardio-respiratory health effects, depending on the severity of the exposure. Those most at risk from these effects at the fire scene are building occupants and emergency responders not protected by breathing apparatus. 

See complete article: "A REVIEW OF TOXIC COMPOUNDS FROM EMERGENT FIRE ZONES"- NYCRA NEWS





WITNESSING THE HISTORY OF OCCUPATIONAL TOXIC EXPOSURES
By Dr. Robert L. Bard, cancer diagnostic specialist (NYC)

I was an active medical personnel for the US Air Force in the early 70's, where I have witnessed firsthand the many service-related tolls and physiological abuses that our troops have undergone health-wise.  I have scanned countless patients for health conditions linked to incendiary (toxic) exposures.  Many of these same conditions continued to plague them years after their tours of duty. 

On the domestic front, our medical community found startling parallels between those medical illnesses from toxic exposures to our first responders (firefighters).  This time, exposures from historical disasters like the 1975 NY Tel Fire and 9/11 e
armarked a history of health disorders "from the job" linked to exposure to burning complex compounds at high temperatures. A significant number of these individuals who spent enough time in "the danger zone" have contracted varying rates of cancer, calling for immediate diagnostic and treatment- years after the exposure.  This spike in cases can only come from ‘dormant’ cells or recurrence (usually with a vengeance) – such as cases of cancer tumors in the lung, liver, prostate, kidney, brain, skin and even the eye. To troubleshoot each case, it would be advantageous to take a crash course in toxicology and to recognize the chemical compounds that literally BATHED all responders during the event.  Understanding these chemicals can help us pursue their behaviors (on the body) and their long and short term effects.

By mid-2016, a curiously similar stream of disorders appeared in growing numbers, potentially related to toxic exposures from airborne incendiary substances- all from post-military personnel. Cases included neurological issues (nerve damage), cardiovascular disorders, skin lesions and liver & kidney problems - to name a few. News reports appeared to link these cases with military burn pits (and other fire related exposures) where prolonged exposure to burning plastics, lubricants, petroleum-based products and other refuse material were the likely culprit.

1) Congress.gov;  https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/663?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22CASE+Act%22%5D%7D&s=1&r=88

2) CCK Burn Pits & VA Disability- Veterans Law- "Agent Orange and Burn Pits" https://cck-law.com/blog/burn-pits-the-agent-orange-for-post-9-11-veterans/


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