By Kathianne Boniello
Amid the grim work to recover victims at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, rescue personnel have endured a variety of injuries, including cuts, broken bones and facial wounds.
In the days since the Sept. 11 attack by terrorists on the World Trade Center, one Bayside dentist has made it possible for firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers to get the dental care they need, free of charge.
Dr. Nicholas Rallis, a dentist on 35th Avenue in Bayside, said the office staff came up with the idea to offer rescue workers free dental work when they hung a large “God Bless America” banner in front of the office.
“That triggered it,” Rallis said of the banner, which inspired the office staff to find a way to help the rescue workers. Rallis has had his practice at 209-20 35th Ave. for seven years.
She said a number of rescue workers have come to the office for n the past two weeks from Long Island, Westchester and other parts of the city, but Rallis wants to get the word out to personnel from Queens who have been working at Ground Zero.
Thousands of people were trapped beneath the rubble of what used to be the Twin Towers. Hundreds of firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel were killed or are missing since the attack, and hundreds more have been helping in the relief efforts.
Daralynn Goodman, an office manager for Rallis who has been coordinating the effort, said “this is what we can do” to help.
“We know there’s a need,” she said. “These guys are slipping and falling through the rubble, hitting their faces.”
Rallis and Goodman said rescue personnel have come in with broken teeth but also with routine dental work because some of them cannot reach their regular dentists. The free dental service will be available to all relief workers for the duration of the cleanup and recovery efforts, they said.
“There is no such thing as rest for these guys,” Goodman said. “They’ve been working 12-hour shifts.”
Goodman said Melinda Katz, director of community boards for Borough President Claire Shulman’s office, helped get the word out to rescue workers.
“It’s been a cataclysmic event,” Goodman said. “Every patient walks in with stories. None of us are exempt.”
Rallis said, “I don’t think there has been one person who has thought clearly since it happened.”
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.