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Legislation Would Give 9/11 Responders Posthumous Recognition

December 5, 2007

Albany, NY - Supporters and family members of first responders to the World Trade Center attacks are furious about the city medical examiner's refusal to certify a policeman's death certificate as being 9/11-related because he died a day after the attack.

The controversy has prompted new legislation requiring that future death certificates indicate a link to the tragedy. New York State Senator Eric Adams says the lack of certification limits victims' ability to seek legal remedies for wrongful death.

"A person who died on the second day, and a person who died at 12:05 on the third day are connected. They're all from the same incident. It's a continuous event, of a crime that they're all victims of."

Adams feels city and state administrators should not evade liability for post-9/11 deaths that were related to the undisclosed presence of toxins in the plume that surrounded the World Trade Center debris.

"The Pentagon had individuals making it mandatory to wear masks and other protective equipment. Here in New York City, we didn't do the same, and I believe we may find more mishaps connected to conditions that people are undergoing now."

Adams is introducing legislation to require that city death certificates indicate that delayed responder deaths are 9/11-related, no matter how long after the attack the deaths may have occurred.

Responders are not the only victims of delayed 9/11 effects. Scotty Hill with New York Disaster Interfaith Services explains her organization has helped provide emergency funds and counseling for nearly 5,000 people. She adds city and federal funding for survivors is starting to dry up for victims unable to work or maintain their households.

"Because of their World Trade Center related illnesses, it would exacerbate their health condition, or they're just simply too disabled altogether. I think, unfortunately, we will continue to see more people come out of the woodwork in need of ongoing benefits and counseling services."

Robert Knight/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY