Thursday, June 23, 2022

COMMEMORATION: Ret. FF. Dan Noonan and the 1975 NY Tel Exchange Fire (Speaker: Dr. Robert L. Bard)

I am honored to be part of this historical event, thanks to my friends at our cherished New York City fire service community and the Fire Bell Club of New York.  I am also here as a representative of a national fire rescue association called FIREFIGHTERS AGAINST CANCER & EXPOSURES (or FACES).   I was elected by FACES as the chief medical advisor to support education and awareness of health resources for first responders.  This allowed me to, in some way, be a part of every call and touch many lives of our rescuers.  This appointment got me to meet and collaborate with many ranks of the fire service, to brainstorm and share information on safety and prevention, and most importantly, drive the power of AWARENESS throughout this professional community.  

After my military service, I opened my radiology practice in the early 70's in NYC- just a few short years before the Telephone Fire.  I remember this day very well.  Events like this inspired me to do more --- and to offer the kind of care to all exposed service members whose sacrifice deserves the same ‘above and beyond’ attention that they have always provided us.

Looking back, my life’s work has been dedicated to caring for countless patients, some with the most complex issues and challenges.  As a grateful New Yorker I have always kept my doors wide open for all first responders- knowing about the risks they endure in practically every call.

I consider myself blessed to have a career that allows access to supporting all personnel from military, law enforcement and our own fire service.  For their many exposures, I help our responders by offering diagnostic care for a wide variety of occupational disorders.  My patients needs drove me to seek out the latest innovations in medical imaging as well as biogenetics and all this helped me provide everyone including our responders the very best that the medical community has to offer.

Working with some of our finest advocates like Dan Noonan and Sal Banchitta and the many other voices of fire safety was also most inspiring to my own evolution.  They all made me realize that if our heart is in the right place, there is so much more that we can do.  Support of our rescue community also comes in the form of PUBLIC AWARENESS AND ADVOCACY – where the sharing of resources and health solutions is another important asset for saving and preserving lives.  I joined the first responders advocacy team to promote prevention and early detection because it is clear that the answer to safety is education and awareness of what resources are available- and how to acquire them.  

We honor the 699 firefighters that fought the NY Telephone Exchange Fire of 1975.  We commemorate their sacrifice, where these brave rescuers engaged one of the most uniquely dangerous fires in history with the same unyielding commitment to their city and their community.  I am blessed to meet and work directly with one of those heroes… one of MY HEROES like Mr. Dan Noonan for many reasons.  Dan and I worked as public speakers under our ‘GET CHECKED NOW!’ Program, encouraging proactive health and checkups to all responders.  

Since I first met Dan, I witnessed his passion and hard work – hoping for the day when he and the 699 responders in the 1975 NY Telephone Fire would finally receive recognition for their work in this fateful event.  I’ve watched Dan re-define LEADERSHIP by taking his own experiences from one disaster and his loss of so many fellow rescuers and turn it into a means of educating the next generation in the fire service about wellness, new safety protocols and keeping the voice of proactive health loud and clear.  I am proud to say that Dan is the original torch bearer and an inspiration to us all!  He is nothing short of a national treasure- where his message resonates through every first responder across the country.

If you listen to any of Dan’s presentations, the disaster of 1975 taught us all so much about the risks behind modern fires, but it remains a landmark for our research and education.  When I look at Dan Noonan’s towering figure, I see him as a beacon for us all- unwavering in his resolve and a guardian of a powerful vision, fulfilling a 43 year old promise to be the voice of so many who sacrificed without hesitation to protect our great city.   Dan continues to stand proudly and stand tall with the greatest unifying message of them all- to NEVER FORGET!

In the spirit of doing our part and making a difference, I proudly stand side by side with all members of the fire service, active and retired- including all advocates and foundations.  You are all my inspiration to responding to a call of need and doing all that we can for our community.


"Dan Noonan, who was first due on 3 Truck to the deadly NY Telephone Exchange fire, has, in the decades since, been a tireless advocate for awareness of occupational cancer and toxic exposure in the fire service, in particular the cancers and deaths sustained by many of the 699 FDNY members who fought that fire. Carrying forward the message and lessons learned, FDNY Deputy Chief Frank Leeb and the Fire Department of New York are leading the way to shift the culture and strategies and improve contamination reduction on the job. We owe it to our brother and sister firefighters, ourselves, and our families to do everything possible to reduce toxic exposure on the job and ensure everyone gets checked regularly for all types of cancer."    - David Dachinger / Responder Resilience 

"Dr Bard's dedication to the provision of advanced diagnostics to the community of first responders that continually put their lives at risk for the sake of the public is more than commendable. I have seen his selfless dedication working weekends and nights doing as much as he can to provide lifesaving care. His speech is a touching honor to all firefighters for their willingness to put their own lives at risk to protect all and is a powerful tribute to their sacrifice...".     - Russ Allen / NFL Alumni

"I have worked with Dr Bard for more than 30 years.  In my opinion, his skill and insightful approach to diagnosis and prognosis has help guide treatment and treatment protocols for decades. Indeed his cancer diagnostic research has helped save and orient treatment for countless patients. His philosophy of "more information can't hurt" is where medicine and the science of medicine meet for the benefit of those whom we serve. The idea that "that patient is me" is the calling that propels Dr. Robert Bard to be as generous and genuine as those who protect and serve. We may wonder who protects those that protect us.  Dr. Robert Bard is an outstanding and selfless one of those. "   - Dr. Richard Kushner

"If there was ever a group of selfless individuals, our firefighters fit that description to a "T". The first ones to run INTO a fire, regardless of the potential toxic conditions to save lives, takes a special soul. Dr. Bard's dedication to help Mr. Dan Noonan and their rescue community gain public awareness and advocacy is a calling all health care professionals can share. 699 firefighters dedicated their lives to help the helpless, and it only makes sense that we should help them - and all first responders - in whatever way we can."
- Jerry Dreessen, DC / Chiropractor

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