FDNY Responders’ 9/11-Related Illness Deaths Equal 9/11 Attack Toll, a Heart-Wrenching Milestone

The solemn news emerged over the weekend that the tally of New York City Fire Department (FDNY) personnel lost to illnesses linked to the events of September 11, 2001, has reached a poignant milestone, matching the number of responders who perished on that fateful day.

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh conveyed the passing of two of the department’s dedicated individuals, EMT Hilda Vannata and retired firefighter Robert Fulco, both of whom succumbed to ailments incurred during their service at the World Trade Center rescue and recovery operations. This announcement was made through a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Hilda Vannata, who battled cancer, passed away on September 20, while Robert Fulco, afflicted with pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung condition, passed away on September 23. These unfortunate events have brought the tally of FDNY responders who have lost their lives due to World Trade Center-related illnesses to 343, mirroring the number of FDNY personnel lost on the day of the tragic attack, as noted by the department.

Commissioner Kavanagh, acknowledging the inevitability of this somber moment, expressed her sentiments in the statement, characterizing it as a “sobering and significant milestone.” She extended heartfelt sympathy to the families of these fallen members and all those who cherished them.

The harrowing events of September 11, 2001, saw thousands of first responders rush to the burning towers after they were struck by hijacked commercial airliners. When the towers ultimately collapsed, a catastrophic loss of life ensued.

In the ensuing months, an estimated 91,000 individuals contributed to the cleanup efforts, inadvertently exposing themselves to toxic fumes, smoke, and hazardous chemicals, according to the City of New York.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last year unveiled an elevated cancer risk among 69,102 rescue and recovery workers who answered the call at the World Trade Center site. This group included police officers and firefighters, and the most prevalent forms of cancer identified included melanoma, thyroid cancer, tonsil cancer, and prostate cancer.

Commissioner Kavanagh’s statement also revealed that 11,000 FDNY first responders currently suffer from World Trade Center-related ailments, with 3,500 of them diagnosed with cancer. She concluded her message by emphasizing the enduring commitment to honor the service and sacrifices of these brave individuals, a commitment that must remain unwavering for the next two decades, just as it has been for the past two.

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