National Emergency Responders Day
annually on September 11th
Trained to respond to a wide range of emergencies, emergency responders are some of the first to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters, accidents, and terrorist attacks. They include people such as paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, and firefighters. Because of the trauma they encounter, they must be of strong physical and mental health. Today we honor and celebrate them for all they do to keep us safe.
National Emergency Responders Day takes place on September 11, the anniversary of the largest terrorist attack in American history. Emergency responders were many of the first to arrive at the locations of the attacks, and many lost their lives that day, and continue to feel the day's effects decades later, making it appropriate that we honor them on its anniversary. Of the 2,977 who were killed that day, 412 were emergency workers who responded to the World Trade Center, and of those, 343 were New York City firefighters and paramedics.
Rushing into the rubble, they breathed in dust that contained asbestos, glass fibers, lead, cement, dioxins, and other chemicals. Many have since experienced respiratory and neurological damage, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. Perhaps most detrimental is the great number of emergency responders who have succumbed to cancer on account of the disaster. Some have developed lung cancer because of exposure to asbestos and skin cancer because of exposure to chemicals. Other cancers—such as breast, thyroid, and esophageal—have developed from exposure on the day. By the anniversary of the tragedy in 2018, there had been 150 emergency workers who had lost their lives over the years on account of September 11th.
Observances take place around the country today, at places such as firehouses. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have officially made the day National Emergency Responders Day. A secondary reason why National Emergency Responders Day takes place today might be because 911 is the number that is called to alert emergency responders, and today is the 11th day of the 9th month.
How to Observe
Here are a few ideas on how to mark National Emergency Responders Day:
- Attend an observance at a firehouse or another location.
- Thank police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency responders in your community.
- Learn about or donate to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
- Visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
- Watch a StoryCorps animated short about two emergency responders who lost their lives on September 11th.