New Jersey emergency responders of all kinds face daily risks to their health and even their lives. This includes firefighters, emergency services personnel and law enforcement officers. Some are injured by everything from heavy lifting to violence to fire. Others inhale toxic substances or suffer vehicle accidents as they rush to the scene of an emergency.
It was only at the end of 2015, after relentless lobbying by comedian Jon Stewart, legislators and victims, that Congress voted to extend the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for the next 75 years. This legislation compensates first responders who have suffered serious health problems as a result of working at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.
However, it doesn't take an event as devastating as 9/11 to harm and sometimes kill emergency workers. Earlier this month, a 49-year-old emergency responder died from a heart attack shortly after he responded to the scene of a crash that involved his 19-year-old daughter.
The man, who was the Warren County 911 Emergency Center's captain, was on duty when the center received a call about the crash. It occurred on Route 206 not far from the Byram/Andover line. He went to the scene himself after he received a separate phone call from his daughter notifying him that she was one of the people injured in the crash.
His daughter survived the crash. However, while the captain was at Newtown Medical Center where those injured were being treated, he suffered a heart attack. Although he was initially treated there, he was eventually airlifted to Morristown Medical Center where he died that evening.
Obviously, in this case, there are extenuating circumstances since one of the victims was the man's daughter. However, it nonetheless shines a light on the emotional stress that emergency responders face on a regular basis in their jobs, aside from the physical hazards. Those who have suffered illness and/or injury as they go to work every day to help others can and should get whatever legal help they need to fight for the compensation to which they are entitled under federal and state law.
Source: ABC Eyewitness News 11, "Emergency Responder Dies After Helping Teen Daughter in Crash in New Jersey," Jan. 19, 2016