9/11 ‘still taking its toll’
FREEPORT — Lt. William Gleason was awake for six straight days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as he worked to rescue people from the rubble of the World Trade Center.
As he worked, Gleason, then a member of the New York City Fire Department, did not know he was exposing himself to toxins that would affect his life forever. The retired paramedic was at Aquin High School on Tuesday to share his story of what happened after the attacks, and what life has been like for him and for other first responders who were there after the twin towers fell.
“The young ones — they have no idea how bad it really was,” Gleason said. “They also have no idea of the sacrifice and the honor. We put others before ourselves that day and we were willing to do whatever it took.”
He’s still still paying the price. As a result of his exposure to the polluted air at ground zero, Gleason has lost more than 60 percent of his lung function, takes 33 medications for his 32 medical problems and gets a biweekly shot in order to breathe.
And he’s not the only one.