ELIZABETH, NJ – Ed Sisk was a battalion chief for the Elizabeth Fire Department on September 11, 2001, and when he and his team of first responders got the call to go to the World Trade, no one hesitated. Today, Sisk is retired and battling sarcoidosis, a disease that causes abnormal collections of inflammatory cells that can form as nodules, a result of his 9/11 experience. He is one of 5,000 first responders from New Jersey afflicted with 9/11 ailments.
Still Sisk says, “I am one of the lucky ones. I’m here with my family.”
Today, November 23, Sisk lent his support at a rally at the Elizabeth Fire Department’s headquarters for the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. Named for a New York City police officer who died of a respiratory disease contracted on the 9/11 site, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act became law in 2010. It designated funding for medical monitoring and treatment and compensation for first responders’ injuries at the World Trade, Pentagon, and the Shanksville crash site. In addition, the legislation funded research into the rare cancers and other 9/1l related diseases researchers are seeing.
This federally funded health care and compensation act will expire in 2016, ending the medical treatment for 9/11 responders and survivors from around the country. Those diagnosed with a 9/11 disease after October 2016 will not be eligible for treatment under the act and will not be compensated for their injuries. Research will stop being funded.
Remarked Sisk, “There are other people who are going to be diagnosed with rare cancers. What is it going to be for them at that time if the funding has dried up?”
At the rally, federal, state, and local elected officials joined groups of police officers, fire fighters, and EMT professionals to call for passage of the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. The legislation would make funding permanent. New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, Congressmen Donald Paine and Frank Pallone, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, State Senator Raymond Lesniak, Assemblyman Jamel Holley Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan, FMBA President Ed Donnelly, and PBA President Pat Colligan spoke to the crowd.
Said Senator Menendez, “First responders spent day after day on the site. Now it is time for Congress to take a day to protect them. This is a no-brainer. The 9/11 responders stood on line to help. They should not have to stand in line waiting for Congress to respond.
“First responders always have our backs, and we should have theirs.”
For more information, contact http://www.renew911health.org/.