By Bill Parry
The funeral for an NYPD sergeant who served eight years at the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst lent a compelling backdrop to the latest push by political leaders to reauthorize the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Sgt. Paul Ferrara was laid to rest on Long Island last week after he succumbed to Stage 4 lung cancer he developed after working at Ground Zero, the NYPD said. Firefighters helped drape black bunting over the entrance to the 110th as the Rev. Rick Beuther, of St. Bartholomew Church, led a service inside the station house.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sgt. Paul Ferrara and everyone at the 110 Precinct,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton wrote on Twitter. “He will be missed by all at the NYPD.”
Ferrara, 43, was a 22-year veteran of the force and leaves behind a wife and son.
With the country reflecting on the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, many of the lawmakers who led the fight in Congress to pass the Zadroga Bill gathered at Ground Zero Sunday with Mayor Bill de Blasio, 9/11 first responders and community survivors to push to renew the programs that are set to expire within the next two years.
Based on the data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 9/11 responders and survivors are battling serious health crises resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. Many are disabled and can no longer work, suffering from a host of chronic diseases.
More than 2,900 people have been diagnosed with cancers that were caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks.
More than 800 FDNY members and more than 550 NYPD personnel are struggling with serious 9/11-related illnesses, not including the more than 70 firefighters and 60 police officers who have died from their 9/11-related illnesses.
The WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund are critical lifelines for 9/11 responders and survivors as well as their families.
To continue these programs for 25 more years, through 2041, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will introduce the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act later this month in the Senate.
U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Peter King (D-Massapequa Park) will do so in the House of Representatives.
“Just as our first responders and survivors worked hard to pass the 9/11 bill in 2010,” Gillibrand said, “tirelessly walking the halls of Congress week after week, month after month and year after year, we will do everything in our power to get this new legislation passed and signed into.”
Participants in the 9/11 Health Program live in all 50 states and 431 of 435 congressional districts.
“In the aftermath of 9/11 we said that we would never forget,” Maloney said. “That vow comes with an obligation on the part of Congress to ensure that we as a country remember, honor and care for those who are now sick or may still become sick due to their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero.”
Like Ferrara of the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.