Recovery Measured by Responder Health

Whenever a major disaster strikes, responders are at risk of becoming victims. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, recovery became the responsibility of police, fire, EMT services, construction workers, and support personnel consisting of heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, iron workers, carpenters and laborers. These responders were largely unprepared for the hazards of the job.

In an article on the Washington Examiner website, James Carafano writes about how a lack of preparedness shows in the health and safety of responders. At Ground Zero, “many lacked basic personal protective equipment such as work boots, masks and gloves,” he writes. “The first ones in had no safety briefings, much less formal training.”

Bruce Lippy, an investigator on the scene, said that over half of those 2,500 responders screened as of November 25, 2002 are still suffering respiratory symptoms.

And responders at the Gulf oil spill aren’t faring much better, says the article. Fishermen in the area are helping contain the spill but have received no adequate training or protective equipment. Oil spills are toxic – Exxon Valdez responders suffered chronic respiratory illnesses, and some got cancer, as a result of the 1989 spill.

“Washington bears part of the blame,” Carafano writes. He says that by dispersing DHS efforts across several committees and devoting time to state emergency calls” the department “each year devotes less time and fewer resources preparing for the really big disasters.”

To read the article, click here: