Texas Task Force 1 Speaks Out On 9-11 Health Concerns

By  | 

It was nearly a week ago that the first post-9-11 death was linked to the toxic dust that clouded much of New York City.

That announcement has raised some concerns for emergency responders who were present at Ground Zero for days and weeks at a time.

Texas Task Force 1 was among 28 federal teams that responded to Ground Zero. Although they got to the site days after the attack, the toxic cloud remained.

"There was still dust and debris around the area to some degree," said Billy Parker with Texas Task Force 1.

"At that time we saw remnants, if you will, of just dust in the air," added Texas Task Force 1 Director Bob McKee.

However, officials with the team say they were prepared for the worst since rescue crews were given a week's notice before responding to the site.

"We gathered a little bit of time to get some intel, such as the time when the building was built, and the materials at the time," Parker said, "so we took precautionary methods that a lot of people didn't have the opportunity to do in the early stages of the 9-11 response."

Crews were also advised by a team physician who was adamant that crews take advantage of protective respiratory equipment.

"Everything from dust masks all the way through self-contained breathing apparatus, it was dependent on the operational area," McKee said.

McKee says upon the crew's return, those who had medical concerns sought treatment. Although no major illnesses have been reported, officials say they still urge those team members to stay on top of their health.

"If you have any health related issues that might come up, don't always think that it might not be a long-term affect from the incident," Parker said.

Parker says he suffered a bad cough for months after his return, but that it has since cleared up. Officials say annual check-ups of all team members help them to keep a close eye on the situation.