Albany, NY - Nearly seventeen years after the World Trade Center attack, the list of the fallen continues to grow as first responders and recovery workers succumb to illnesses linked to their work in the aftermath of the attacks. In the aftermath of the attack, an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 responders worked at Ground Zero, sometimes for weeks at a time. According to data collected by The World Trade Center Health Program, more than 1,320 people have died from illnesses resulting from exposure to the toxic environment at Ground Zero.
As an EMT for seven years, Senator Terrence Murphy worked in close contact with many first responders. He has been an advocate for them, working for improved treatment and benefits. He co-sponsored S6898B, legislation that clarifies sick leave for officers or employees who were engaged in rescue, recovery or clean up duties while in the line of duty at the World Trade Center. This bill acknowledges that every public employee deserves benefits related to any qualifying World Trade Center illness or condition as a result of putting their lives on the line to help following the tragic events of 9/11.
"We should never forget the bravery and compassion shown by the men and women who went into the twin towers to save the lives of others or had the solemn task of sifting through the rubble to identify those we lost," said Senator Murphy. "Many of these heroes are now struggling with conditions related to 9/11. We owe it to these brave men and women to help them remain on the job while they get treatment for their illnesses."
Senator Golden, a former New York City Police Officer and sponsor of the bill said, "The State of New York must continue to be there for our first responders and those who have dedicated their lives to protecting us. We must protect our retired police officers against criminal retaliation and expand sick leave for officers who served at Ground Zero. The passage of this legislation rightly signifies our commitment to their health and safety."
In addition, the Senators stand in support of legislation that protects the lives of first responders as they perform their duties. On March 21, the New York State Senate passed the "Community Heroes Protection Act," designed to increase protections for the state's law enforcement community, firefighters, and other emergency service workers.
The Community Heroes Protection Act was inspired by those who have lost their lives, were wounded, or targeted specifically because of their profession as community protectors, such as last year's fatal shooting of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia.
The variety of bills aimed at safeguarding New York's law enforcement community include S1114A, which would make certain crimes explicitly committed against law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders punishable as hate crimes; S1747, which helps protect retired police officers from retaliation by individuals who had been arrested by the officers when they were still on active duty;· S1984, legislation that strengthens existing penalties by creating a new crime when a terrorist threat is made against a police officer; S2125, a measure prohibiting the use a civilian drone within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility; S5337, which expands the permitted use of TSA body image scanner devices in correctional facilities across the state; and S1302, a bill that increases penalties for criminals who target law enforcement through vehicle vandalism.
The bills will be sent to the Assembly.