NY firefighters visit Vail firehouse
By Christine Ina Casillas
August 16, 2003
New York firefighter Joe Higgins can no longer fight fires. He involuntarily retired from the New York Fire Department shortly after responding to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center because of health problems caused by a variety of toxins released when the skyscrapers collapsed.
Higgins lost two brothers - both firefighters - in the disaster. In the following months, he had trouble breathing and sleeping. He was often awakened by nightmares and, he says, the trauma always will stay with him.
Like Higgins, many firefighters who were at Ground Zero still suffer from not only the terrible memories of Sept. 11., but also from toxic exposure. Firefighters have spent the two years since the attacks going to memorial services and funerals for their colleagues while also dealing with their own deteriorating health.
"There was so many sick members of the teams," said Israel Miranda, health and safety coordinator for one of New York's paramedics unions. "After many surveys, the long-term said that 10 years down the line, a lot of these guys wouldn't have a quality of life."
Five New York firefighters and emergency medical services personnel who suffered physically and mentally from the tragedy of Sept. 11 visited the Vail Valley Tuesday.
The group met with local firefighters at Vail's firehouse and went to the Vilar Center to attend the Beaver Creek Theatre Festival performance of "The Guys" - a play based on a real New York fire chief who faced the unbearable task of eulogizing most of his crew who died in the attacks.
They also attended a fund raiser Tuesday night.
"These guys are just like us," Vail Fire Chief John Gulick said. "There are so many similarities between our departments, except that their department is more intense."
After the attacks on the World Trade Center, many of the firefighters say they didn't think they'd see the age of 50. Others said they would be taking medicine for the rest of their life just to breath.
"When you remain on meds, that's just something you do," Higgins said. "It's not a problem to be in the field only for so long because that's what we did for a living. We dug people out of the rubble. We were on automatic pilot."
While the firefighters worked around the clock for days at Ground Zero cleaning up the remains of the towers, many noticed physical affects from the toxins. The attacks on the towers, and their collapse, brought toxins that began with a dust storm of pulverized concrete, steel, asbestos, carpeting, office equipment and other hazardous materials.
"There were many sick people," Miranda said. "I had trouble sleeping. I was edgy all the time. I snapped at my family and my children.
"These are traits you do not need when you're responsible for the health and safety unit of the biggest EMS in the country," he said.
The toxins released after the buildings came down caused many to suffer asthma, heart conditions and trauma.
"These guys weren't sleeping, they weren't eating and they couldn't exercise," said Joanie Sigel, a spokeswoman for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Fund. "In September 2002, we opened a detoxification clinic in downtown Manhattan with more than 150 rescue workers who received the detox."
The detoxification clinic is part of a research project that was founded more than 20 years ago to help remove drugs and residuals from the body, said Jim Woodworth, director of operations for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxificiation Project.
Two clinics were set up in Los Angeles by medical doctors who used L. Ron Hubbard's method of detoxification.
"Thousands of people went through the program with chemical exposures and street drugs with great success," Woodworth said. "We started to receive calls as early as Sept. 14 from people who knew about the program and asked us for help."
The program involves a precise regimen of daily sauna bathing and exercise along with vitamin-, mineral- and oil-supplements, he said.
"The guys miraculously reversed my health," Higgins said. "After long hospital visits and months of drugs and prescriptions to keep me breathing, I resigned to be on medicines for the rest of my life.
"Then I ran into Jim and said sarcastically, "What are you going to do for me?' These guys take what they're doing to another level," he said.
Through sweat, excretion and glands, the toxins leave the body, Higgins said.
The detoxification program might be one of the leading, cutting edge projects in the country, Gulick said.
"They have a better quality of life," Gulick said. "With the lingering affects of Sept. 11, two years later they have improved their quality of life and extended their quality of life after the fire services.
"Now while they're in town," he said, "we're just enjoying a little bit of the brotherhood with them."
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at email@example.com
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2003 09:43:43 -0700
Subject: Re: CoS Targets Vail Money
LETTER TO THE VAIL FD
I recently read an article about a visit your department received from members of the NYFD. I am deeply concerned about the mention of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project.
As you know, scam artists crawled out of the woodwork following the catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Center. Foremost among them was the "Church" of Scientology, which immediately launched into a campaign to profit from this tragedy. Before you give any support to the NY Detox Project, there are a few things you should be made aware of immediately. I hope you will take the time to look at this information.
First of all, the Scientology organization sent "Volunteer Ministers" to New York, in an attempt to establish a media presence and gain access to people who were still suffering from shock and grief, and therefore vulnerable, just as they did following the Columbine High School shooting. Internal emails from Volunteer Ministers in NY revealed that these "Ministers," banned from the Ground Zero footprint, sneaked in around barricades, endangering rescue workers with their untrained presence. They also disrupted legitimate mental health professionals who were present to assist victims. Here is an excerpt from one of the emails from "Lt." Simon Hare;
"Additionally we are trying to move in and knock the psychs out of counseling to the grieving families and that could take another 100 plus people right now. Due to some brilliant maneuvering by some simply genius Sea Org Members we tied up the majority of the psychs who were attempting to get to families yesterday in Q&A, bullbait and wrangling. They have a hard time completing cycles of action and are pretty easy to disperse. But today they are out in full force and circling like vultures over these people and all of our resources are tied up in the support efforts in the disaster zone at present."
Hare is a Lieutenant in the Sea Organization (Sea Org,) Scientology's paramilitary body which mimics the Navy. The rest of these emails may be read here: http://xenu.net/archive/events/20010911-tragedy/
Immediately following the disaster, a crawling banner appeared on Fox News, offering "mental health" assistance through an entity called the National Mental Health Assistance, which has the same acronym as the legitimate National Mental Health Association. The phone number displayed connected to the Dianetics 800 number. Dianetics is part of the Scientology organization. The banner was pulled after Fox was made aware of this deceitful attempt to gain access to victims of this tragedy.
The Scientology organization also launched a big PR campaign at the same time, promoting its "volunteer ministers" and preying on peoples' fear of terrorism. I hope you can see that this group is attempting to profit from tragedy, something they have a long history of doing.
This brings me to the NY Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. The Scientology organization has a front group called Narconon, a drug and detox program based on the "science" of college dropout and pulp fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, a man in no way qualified to devise such a program. The NY Rescue Workers Detoxification Project is nothing more than a front group of a front group. Legitimate studies of Scientology's detox program show it to be an ineffective and potentially dangerous regime based on nothing more than Hubbard's vivid imagination. He was not a doctor, although he purchased a doctorate from Sequoia University, a now defunct diploma mill. It's important to keep this in mind while reviewing the shining testimonials and fabulous statistics put out by the Scientology organization's slick PR team. There is an extensive review of the Narconon program at http://www.narconon-exposed.org.
This extensively researched site is well documented, and reveals the Narconon program to be nothing more than a recruiting branch for the "Church" of Scientology. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop had this to say about this detox program in an interview of a book touting Hubbard's techniques;
Question. What about the author's detoxification advice? He credits L. Ron Hubbard,the founder of Scientology with some of the theories he recommends.
Answer. "My recommendation about detoxification is to keep away from it. You don't need it. I'm not sure it does what this book describes. It's dangerous. I don't think L. Ron Hubbard has credibility in the scientific world. The author's suggestions about detoxification can be detrimental to your health. " - C. Everett Koop, M.D.
I hope you will look beyond the unsubstantiated claims offered by promoters of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. This is a dangerous and fraudulent attempt on the part of Scientology to continue benefitting from the 911 tragedy. It is repugnant to me that they're targetting the brave and deeply appreciated men and women of our country's Fire Departments.
I love you all and the work you do. Be well.
LETTER TO CHRISTINE INA CASILLAS
Regarding your article about this group, there are two things you should be made aware of. 1. It is a front group for the "church" of Scientology, which has been trying to profit from the 911 tragedy since day one. http://xenu.net/archive/events/20010911-tragedy/
2. The Detoxification Project is a front group for the front group Narconon, itself a front group for the Scientology organization. http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/
It is repugnant to me that this cult is targetting firefighters in an effort to garner good PR and recruits. There are many websites exposing the 50 year history of Scientology and founder L. Ron Hubbard. One of the most extensive sites is: http://www.xenu.net
I hope you will look at some of this material so you can better understand the nature of Scientology's predatory and deceitful tactics in the wake of tragedy.
"After over 50 years, what has Scientology given the world? Misery, hopelessness, broken families, desolation, death." -Shydavid
"I remember when my son said "Every day should be Mother's Day." But those were the days before L Ron Hubbard came into his life."