FDNY 9/11 First Responder Dies From 9/11-Related Cancers
A West Islip firefighter who served his community for nearly three decades has passed away from multiple 9/11-related cancers at 61. Frederick “Freddy” Gallagher was a first responder who “spent weeks on the pile during recovery efforts” at Ground Zero. A full firefighter’s funeral was held to honor Freddy for his efforts as not only a firefighter but also as a 9/11 first responder.
Freddy began his firefighting career in March of 1986, when he joined FDNY Engine 290. Freddy later joined FDNY Ladder Company 103, retiring in May of 2012. For more than ten years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Freddy continued to risk his life serving his community as a firefighter.
A Hero Who Suffered the Consequences of 9/11 Decades Later
Like many first responders and survivors, Freddy developed multiple cancers many years after he was exposed to 9/11 toxins at Ground Zero. Cancer can take anywhere from a few years to a few decades to develop. Because of exposure to a multitude of toxic substances at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks, first responders like Freddy, along with survivors, experienced changes in their DNA that contributes to the development of cancer.
For Freddy, it took nearly two decades for him to develop multiple cancers. For others, a cancer diagnosis may come earlier or later. For first responders and survivors who have not developed cancer or any 9/11-related illness, they are left wondering if they too will face a 9/11 illness, and when that diagnosis may come.
More Than 257 FDNY First Responders Have Died From 9/11 Illnesses
As of September 13, 2021, more than 257 members of the FDNY have died from 9/11-related illnesses. The names of fallen FDNY heroes are periodically updated and included on the World Trade Center Memorial Wall. Freddy Gallagher, like many others, will be included on this wall to honor those who responded to the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero. Unfortunately, many FDNY heroes who have been diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses may suffer the same fate as Freddy, adding to the growing list of heroes who have fallen at a young age.
The Top 10 Most Common 9/11 Certified Conditions
The specific types of cancers Freddy suffered from are unknown, but cancer is considered one of the most common groups of 9/11-related conditions. Medical conditions and cancer types are periodically added to the list of 9/11 certified conditions, which entails a lengthy administrative process that requires a change of federal rules and regulations.
To date, most cancer types are considered 9/11-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of the top 10 most common 9/11 certified conditions suffered by 9/11 first responders and survivors, which include the following:
- Chronic Rhinosinusitis
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Sleep Apnea
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic Respiratory Disorder-Fumes/Vapors
- WTC-Exacerbated Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Anxiety Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified (NOS))
- Major Depressive Disorder
The mental toll of suffering not only from the trauma of experiencing the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks but also the trauma of facing a serious and life-threatening medical condition like cancer is immense. A significant number of 9/11 first responders like Freddy Gallagher suffer from mental health conditions in addition to cancers and other 9/11-related health conditions.
Brief Overview of the Process to Obtain 9/11 Benefits
First responders and survivors who were present within the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 20, 2002, along with the other 9/11 attack sites, may be eligible for free medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). However, a first responder or survivor must provide supporting documentation, such as proof of exposure and documentation of a 9/11 certified condition.
The WTCHP is solely intended to provide necessary medical monitoring and treatment to qualifying individuals who have been diagnosed with one or more 9/11-related illnesses. The WTCHP is a program that is authorized by the Zadroga Act and set to continue through 2090 . Periodically, Congress must authorize additional funding to meet the needs of WTCHP members each year. As more 9/11 first responders and survivors like Freddy are diagnosed with a 9/11 condition that requires treatment, the need for additional funding will grow.
Obtaining Compensation for a 9/11 Injury or Illness
In addition to obtaining medical monitoring and treatment through the WTCHP, qualifying first responders and survivors may be eligible to obtain compensation through the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The VCF is fully funded through 2090 pursuant to the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Peifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.
The VCF is intended to pay fair compensation to individuals of the 9/11 community who have suffered needlessly. To be eligible for compensation through the VCF, a 9/11 first responder or survivor must first register with the WTCHP.
Are You an Existing WTCHP Member?
If you are a 9/11 first responder or survivor, and you receive WTCHP benefits outside of the New York City Metropolitan area, you should be aware of the recent change in vendors from LHI to MCA-Sedgwick. The 9/11 community has relied on LHI for many years, and the quality of management has deteriorated over the past few years. Members who have received benefits through LHI’s management are hopeful that benefits and treatment will be better managed by MCA-Sedgwick going forward.
Contact the 9/11 Lawyers of Pitta & Baione Today
If you are a 9/11 first responder or survivor who has developed a 9/11-related illness, you have options for obtaining the medical treatment you need and potentially recovering compensation for your pain and suffering. Whether you are new to the WTCHP or are an existing member who has questions about 9/11 benefits, consider reaching out to Pitta & Baione, a well-known 9/11 law firm. At Pitta & Baione, our team of 9/11 lawyers works tirelessly to ensure they are advocating on behalf of their clients to the fullest extent possible. To receive your free consultation, contact our office today by calling (844) 982-2667.