Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Two New Guests On News Talk Online 9/11


Two new guests have agreed to join me on News Talk Online on to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Charlie Giles - a very brave man - both as a first responder - and - in spite of his own struggle to survive = in his fight for medical care for those who have been ill since rushing to Ground Zero.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, his first day back from vacation, Giles, an EMT working for Citywide Mobile Response, flew over the World Trade Center while returning from vacation to land at Newark Airport. As he glanced out the windows, he remarked about how beautiful the towers looked as the sun, on a perfectly cloudless day, glistened off its windows.

Shortly after landing, Giles received a call from Citywide's CEO telling him a plane had hit one of the towers. He was told to respond to the scene and coordinate the private ambulance company's rescue efforts there.

He rushed to lower Manhattan just in time to see the second plane strike the other tower. He immediately went to work tending to the injured - starting with an elevator mechanic whose legs had been sheered off. Giles rushed the victim to the hospital only to later learn that the patient had died.

He returned to the scene to tend to more wounded when the first tower collapsed. Giles ran for his life, then turned round and returned to the scene to attend to the now even more victims.

He then received a report of a man down on the mezzanine level of the remaining tower. Because all the EMTs under his command were otherwise engaged, Giles rushed into the building to tend to a firefighter in cardiac arrest. While administering CPR he heard a loud rumble. A Port Authority police officer screamed at him to get out. "Come on," the officer yelled, "it's collapsing." Giles says had it not been for that officer he'd be dead today.

Now a patient himself, Giles was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center with first and second degree burns and a scratched cornea. They wanted to admit him, but Giles knew he had to return to the scene, so he declined.

He returned, and continued to return to search the rubble - The Pile as it was quickly tagged by the responders - for the grim task of recovering bodies. Finally, in late December, it had all taken too much of a toll. Giles told his boss he was done.

In 2002, Giles began to show symptoms of illness he believes he contracted working on The Pile. It all started with a persistent cough. He's not the only one who responded to Ground Zero who has this symptom. In fact, it's so common that it's been dubbed the World Trade Center cough.

Giles continued to work as an EMT until March, 2007 when his continuing failing health forced him into a disability retirement. His hip has been totally replaced due to avascular necrosis, a disease caused by a steroid that was prescribed to aid in his breathing. His right knee has been reconstructed. He is on 30 medications, has been hospitalized 17 times and has 15 medical diagnosis. All this - he believes - as a result of his responding to Ground Zero. He has, due to his struggling financial situation, also lost his home.

In spite of his deteriorating condition and poor prognosis, Giles has become an indefatigable advocate of medical care for 9/11 responders. He is now a spokesman for the Feal Good Foundation which is fighting for treatment for all who responded to the 9/11 attacks. Giles will join me at 5 PM New York time.

Then joining us at 5:30 New York time will be a woman who will view 9/11 and the continuing threat of terrorism through the eyes of a Muslim.

Supna Zaidi is a Pakistani-American with a background in law and policy. She helped produce Third Jihad - a documentary about radicalized Muslims.

Zaidi not only exposes those Muslims who might commit terror but is also a champion of the majority of those who practice Islam who believe in peace. She feels the threat of terrorism in the name of her religion can only be mitigate by further dialogue, first within the Muslim community, and then between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Zaidi's family are northern Indian who migrated to Pakistan in the 50s. As secular Muslims from the minority Shiite community in Karachi, Pakistan, Zaidi knows the damage religion in government can do despite the good intentions behind those advocating Islam in the public sphere. She says Women, ethnic, religious, as well as minorities based on sexual orientation always suffer under societies that do not believe in separation of church and state.

No comments: