In the terrorist attacks of 9/11, first responders braved the wreckage and chaos in order to save as many civilians as they could. Without their tireless, selfless work, the horrifying tragedy could have resulted in even more injuries and deaths than the already insurmountable numbers they are known as today.
Mike Phelan was one of many first responders who arrived at Ground Zero. As the captain to the Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferry cruises, he arrived on lower Manhattan and worked quickly to evacuate those in the area, saving hundreds of lives. He brought in supplies to the scene and assisted workers and civilians in the area.
Phelan, who joined the New York Fire Department after 9/11, passed away on the 16th of March due to cancer, caused by the inhalation of the toxic fumes and smoke present during the 9/11 attack. He was only 45 years old. After the NYFD released an official statement about his passing, countless tributes poured in for Phelan, praising him for his sacrifices and heart.
Unfortunately, approximately 400,000 other people who survived the 9/11 attacks have also been fighting a wide variety of different health conditions caused by the inhalation of the fumes and carcinogens at the scene. From burning plastic and asbestos to jet fuel and metal, the debris have rendered countless individuals with cancer, gastroesophageal diseases, respiratory issues, and mental health conditions.
The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was passed and signed by President Barack Obama during his term in order to work on this problem, with $4.2 billion allocated to the World Trade Center Health Program that works on treatment for those who have medical issues as a result of 9/11.