The Enduring Suffering of Public Safety Personnel

2007 Oct 20 Posted by Joseph Pascarella

In a stunning twist of events, Dr. Charles Hirsch, the New York City Chief Medical Examiner concluded that New York City Detective James Zadroga did not die as a result of working at the World Trade Center during the rescue and recovery effort.

Detective Zadroga had toiled at the World Trade Center during the Rescue and Recovery effort for over 400 hours. He became ill after that and died in New Jersey in January of 2006. The local Medical Examiner in the New Jersey county in which Detective Zadroga had died linked the cause of his death with exposure to the toxins at the World Trade Center site. This week, the New York City Medical Examiner disagreed with the findings of the Ocean County Medical Examiner.

There are many legal and medical issues with this case, however, the human element involved in this case is heartbraking. Detective Zadroga worked on the pile at Ground Zero, searching for victims including his lost colleagues in the public safety services. This work was physically, emotionally, and psychological challenging consider the unknown scope and loss of human life at the time, the enormity of damage, and collective shock and despair of public safety personnel at the site.

Now, at this moment, Detective Zadroga’s family must endure more trauma while wrangling with medical and legal issues disputing the cause of Detective Zadroga’s death.

These are some of the long term personnel issues in contemporary public safety. Often, years after the incident, family members of public safety personnel must endure a painful legacy.

Take care and stay safe.

Joe Pascarella

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One Response to “The Enduring Suffering of Public Safety Personnel”

Joy Says:

Off topic- I don’t know how to start a new thread. In one of my classes I’m taking right now, a fellow student writes about a MRSA illness. She says, “The MRSA illness is a staph infection that has been plagueing my area for the passed few weeks. We’ve had a local teenager in my area who the mother says died from MRSA. They closed the whole school district to disinfect them and the students were let back in the next day” (2007, private communication).

Originally she wrote, ” … because a lot of times when things happen, parents as well as school personnel want something to change in the seconds that it happens. Case in point: I live in Central VA and we have had outbreaks of the MRSA infection. The parents wanted immediate action where the schools would be closed so that they could be disinfected. The school board had to systematically look at all situations before they could do that – is it MRSA? What precautions to take, etc. I think that if they hurried too fast to jump to conclusions we would have had mass pandamonium in our area. Sometimes it’s good to take your time and think things through before making a decision” (2007, October 20, private communication).

Public safety involves many facets of life. We do not often think of scenarios like this. I personally think sometimes you do not have time to think things through before making a decision, or at least think things through as most people define the phrase.

Based on the best available information at that moment, including possible risk to the entire population (the students in the school district), I think the officials immediate action of closing the schools was prudent. They faced the possibility of a deadly disease being spread to the entire population.

They did not know the vector of the disease. I think closing the entire school system was much wiser than just closing the school the student who died attended.

My reasoning- the vector for the disease could have been an employee, in the food services for example, so it may have been district wide.

Any opinions?

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