Congressman Brian Higgins speaking at Roswell Park, July 7, 2021.

Roswell Park Approved to Provide Care for World Trade Center 9/11 First Responders

Highlights
  • First responders are at increased risk for cancer and cancer-related disease
  • 9/11 first responders no longer have to cross state for specialized care
  • Roswell Park scientists to investigate heightened risks of first responders

Nearly two decades ago, first responders from across New York State answered the call for help when thousands of people were killed and injured in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A new program at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center will make sure these brave police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel don’t need to cross the state to protect themselves from the long-term health effects they may still be dealing with because of their 9/11-related service.

Roswell Park has been a destination cancer center for the care of first responders throughout Western and Central New York for years, and has now been named a member of the World Trade Center Health Program provider network.

“Our first responders are always there for us, no matter the situation or conditions, and Roswell Park will be there to help first responders get the care they need,” says Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, PhD. “Many firefighters, state Troopers, EMTs, police officers and others from Western and Central New York crossed the state to serve after the 9/11 attacks, putting themselves in harm’s way and exposing themselves to increased risk of cancer and other long-term health impacts. Our first responders no longer have to go to the other end of the state to get appropriate follow-up care that takes their special needs and circumstances into consideration.”

In fulfillment of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) provides medical care for first responders and others who served in response to the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Under the oversight of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the program covers medically necessary treatment for certified World Trade Center-related health conditions at no cost to the patient. The new program at Roswell Park was designed in collaboration with leadership from the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai.

First responders face unique occupational health risks in the line of duty. Research conducted at Roswell Park shows that health risks for first responders are multifactorial and include exposures from several aspects of their work environment. Chronic exposures to heat, smoke and toxic flame retardants through inhalation, ingestion, skin absorption and chronic stress put first responders, including fire and law enforcement personnel, at risk for many cancers.

"Thank you to Roswell Park and lawmakers for seeing this through," says Charles Murphy of the New York State Troopers PBA Board of Directors. "You worked together with your constituents to ensure these brave men and women in our region no longer have an undue hardship when seeking treatment."

“Knowing there is a cancer center in Buffalo we can send our firefighters to is amazing,” says Syracuse Firefighter and President of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation of NY Michael Valenti. “For me, it’s a two-hour ride. It was a cup of coffee and I arrived – Roswell Park is in our backyard.”

“I can’t say enough how beneficial this is for the Buffalo Fire Department and community as a whole,” says William Renaldo, Buffalo Fire Commissioner. “We had a number of firefighters who responded to 9/11. Now, we have direct access to a world-renowned and recognized cancer research facility, right here in the city.”

“Roswell Park’s approval as a World Trade Center Health Program Network Provider will allow 9/11 First Responders to receive treatment at the comprehensive cancer center in Buffalo, NY,” says New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “Roswell earning this designation means that First Responders located near WNY will no longer have to travel across the state for specialized care. I applaud Roswell Park for their dedication and commitment to the fight to end cancer.”

“I saw firsthand the remarkable work performed by firefighters, police officers, State Troopers, EMT’s and other first responders on 9/11, and in the days and months that followed. As many of these brave men and women now cope with long-term health issues associated with their service at Ground Zero, it is important that they have easy access to quality health care services as close to home as possible,” says State Senator Patrick M. Gallivan. “Making Roswell Park part of the World Trade Center Health Program will ease the burden on those individuals from Western New York who answered our nation’s call for help.”

These programs are the latest initiative in Roswell Park’s outreach specifically targeted to first responders. For more information about the World Trade Center Health Program services at Roswell Park, or our First Responders Screening and Surveillance Program, please visit roswellpark.org/firstresponders or contact Ashley Snowden at (716) 845-3195 or Ashley.Snowden@RoswellPark.org.

###

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.

Media Contact

Annie Deck-Miller, Director of Public Relations
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org