A doctor with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City shared the findings of a research project dealing with thousands of 911 rescue workers. He spoke with East Texas doctors at UT Health Center at Tyler. The findings could help emergency responders here in our area to be better prepared for a disaster whether natural or man-made.
"I think it's important that everyone understand the consequences of the disaster. Such things can happen... in any area of the country or the world. We have to be better prepared," said Mount Sinai School of Medicine Medical Director Stephen Levin, M.D.
Doctor Levin went though a long list of problems responders at the World Trade Center are suffering from four and a half years after the 911 attacks. "For the main part, what we saw were high rates of respiratory problems and by that I mean sinusitis and persistent inflammation of the nasal passages, persistent laryngitis, as well as high rates of persistent asthma among people who never had asthma before," said Dr. Levin.
Doctors from the East Texas area gathered UT Health Center at Tyler to hear about what could have been done better. "He covered many areas of concern. The biggest concern was about the rescuer going into a unprepared environment and being notified by the public health department whether the area was safe," said UT Health Center at Tyler Medical Education director Jonathan MacClements, M.D.
Doctor MacClements says what they heard today could better prepare East Texas in an emergency situation. "There are many lessons that can be learned, that can be shared, for instance, the issues that arose through the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. There were many lessons learned today that we could have been educated on with the information that Dr. Levin shared with us today," said MacClements.
Levin hopes the research will not only help others in the future, but also provide follow up health care for those workers. The Mount Sinai research program has been monitoring 16,000 responders since 2002. Recently, the group received funding from the federal government to continue to monitor the workers over the next five years.