In just four days, four former New York firefighters died from complications from their service in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. They are by no means the first rescue workers to succumb to long-term consequences.

They all died within a week: Four former New York City Fire Department (FDNY) firefighters have died more than 20 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Several US media had reported about it.

287 dead firefighters after action on 9/11

As the news channel CNN reports, all four firefighters died at the end of May – according to “NBC New York”, each of them had been on duty for at least 20 years. They are by no means the first former responders to die from the long-term effects of 9/11. The FDNY alone lost 287 members to illnesses related to the attacks.

“These tragic losses are a grim reminder of the sacrifices the FDNY continues to make and the exceptional bravery that Department members showed on 9/11 and in the rescue and recovery efforts that followed,” the agency said according to CNN.

According to information from the World Trade Center Health Program, many rescue workers were exposed to toxic gases, among other things, which can cause a number of serious illnesses – in particular diseases of the respiratory and digestive systems.

Almost a fifth of the emergency services suffer from cancer

According to the science journal “Scientific American” (as of autumn 2019) more than 4,600 helpers and survivors of 9/11 died – far more than in the attacks themselves. The chemicals, dust and debris released when the towers collapsed are associated with more than two dozen diseases and 60 types of cancer. Almost a fifth of the emergency services fell ill afterwards from cancer.

These deaths are not all directly related to secondary diseases. But the statistics only record people who have taken part in the WTC health program – and these are far fewer than were actually involved in the rescue and clean-up work. Three out of four participants in the WTC health program have been diagnosed with at least one physical or mental illness. Firefighters are among the hardest hit. Only a few of them wore respirators on and shortly after 9/11 – they were only available a good week after the clean-up work began.

“I’ve talked to many World Trade Center workers and one common thread struck me: Despite the medical and other consequences of the exposure, they would help again immediately,” says Moshe Shapiro, a medic who conducts research into the health effects of 9/ 11 published.

Quellen: CNN; “NBC New York”; “Scientific American”