2007_12_gzair.jpgFirst responders gathered in front of the NYC Medical Examiner's office to protest how the ME has classified deaths seemingly related to Ground Zero illnesses. State Senator Eric Adams said he would introduce legislation making sure first responders who worked at Ground Zero will "get the same line-of-duty benefits" as September 11 victims.

Recently, the ME's office has not named two rescuers, who worked at the World Trade Center site after September 11 and later died from complications of illnesses (seemingly caused by the toxic dust), as victims of the September 11 attacks. In fact, a letter ME Dr. Charles Hirsch sent to one of the families narrowed the definition of a 9/11 death: "All persons killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and others who died later from complications of injury or exposure directly caused by the collapse of the twin towers on that day are homicide victims."

Adams said, "We still hear the voices and pain of those that did not die on 9/11, but died after and will die in the future. My bill would allow the medical examiner to list those who worked on Ground Zero on 9/12 and after as victims of 9/11." Lawyer Norman Siegel of the ACLU added the responders are "American heroes...we must do everything we can help them and their families."

And the wife of one NYPD detective who is suffering the aftereffects of working 400 hours at Ground Zero said, "People who are ill are vilified rather than granted mercy."