Indiana Task Force One members think about future of health after 9/11 deployment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A handful of Indiana Task Force One members vividly remember their deployment to New York to help with the aftermath of 9/11 and wonder about future health concerns.

Three of the 62 members who drove out to New York City have all died from cancer. A handful of firefighters go to the 9/11 memorial in downtown in Indianapolis to reflect on what has happened since the terrorist attack 19 years ago. One thing is clear, they wouldn’t have changed going but the future of their health is unknown.

Members still have clear images in their minds: the sight of smoke and the look of what’s now Ground Zero. One member described the city as a war zone.

A handful of Indiana firefighters have had some form of cancer and other health issues that still impact them today. Those that are active in their departments get physicals every year, so there is hope that if something is there it will get caught early.

The events and now side effects are still challenging for some members to talk about. But they all believe working with the New York City Fire Department to look for survivors was what they were meant to do.

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“There’s a little part of me that you certainly feel proud about what you did and was involved with but on the other hand, you knew that you couldn’t do everything that needed to be done,” IFD Battalion Chief Station 7, Dave Cook said. “Then on into the future, you don’t know what that holds for my own health and what that does for my wife and my family.”

“So far I’m pretty healthy and so you know out of the 62 members that went to Ground Zero, we have about 48% of those members that have had ill health effects or currently still have those health effects,” IFD Division Chief Tom Neal said.

There is help for those that went to NYC. The World Trade Center Health Program was created and it provides healthcare to help diagnose issues associated with exposures at Ground Zero since returning. A lot of team members are actively engaged in the program There is also a victims’ compensation fund.