Improving global prehospital and emergency medicine, public health, and disaster health care and preparedness

Erin Smith – Profile

Dr. Erin Smith has over 17 years experience teaching and researching within disaster and prehospital health. Her PhD research conducted in Melbourne, New York, and London explored paramedic willingness to work during disasters. Dr. Smith’s primary area of post-doctoral research interest has been on the long-term physical and mental health impact on 9/11 responders. Dr. Smith is currently on the Board of Directors of the World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM), where she also holds the positions of Deputy Chair of the Oceania Chapter and Co-Convenor of the Psychosocial Special Interest Group. Dr. Smith is currently a member of the Research Special Interest Group of Paramedics Australasia and is the Course Coordinator for the Master of Disaster and Emergency Response at Edith Cowan University, Australia.

Webinar Title: Sixteen Years on: 9/11 Responders and their Families Share their Stories


Presentation Summary:

The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks (9/11) killed nearly 3,000 people including 413 emergency first responders. Whilst New York rebounded strongly following 9/11, one of the painful legacies of the disaster is the lasting effect on the physical and mental health of thousands of individuals who survived the attacks — including the 9/11 responders. Now, sixteen years after 9/11, the impact on the responders and their families is ongoing. They are still impacted by long-term physical and psychosocial consequences of that day – traumatized by 9/11 – because what they experienced has not ended.

New cases of 9/11-related illness are diagnosed regularly. Cancer rates are around 15% higher in those who were exposed to Ground Zero compared to those who were not. More than 1,000 responders have died in the years following 9/11 of causes directly related to the time they spent on “the pile.” Over 7,000 are currently being treated for 9/11-related illnesses and some 2,500 responders have retired due to 9/11-related disability. The reality is that the death toll from the terrorist attacks grows larger each year, and while the physical wounds may have healed, the emotional scars remain for many.

This presentation will share stories from these responders and their families, highlighting the never-ending reverberation of pain and suffering.