I Can’t Let Go of the Memory

By Rebecca Shafer, JD
www.WCManual.com

I am alive and so is my family, which means I don't have the same rights to September 11 grief as some of my co-workers at Marsh and AON. I know this and though each year memories fade of colleagues lost that day and I lose contact with survivors permanently scarred by the events, it is hard to let go.

Each year I try.

For those who don't know, my life-long career in workers’ compensation was greatly affected by the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. The two companies where I spent the majority of my workers’ compensation cost-containment career were located in the World Trade Center buildings. My former employer and workers’ compensation leviathan, Marsh, was on floors 93 through 100 in the North Tower, 1 World Trade Center. This was precisely at the point of American Airlines Flight 11 impact, 8:46 a.m. My other company, AON, a colossal insurance brokerage and risk management firm, for whom I led the workers’ compensation cost containment practice in the mid-1990’s, was also located at the site, on floors 98 through 105 in 2 World Trade Center, the South Tower. It was struck on floors 77 through 85 by United Flight 175 at 9:03 a.m. and collapsed first at 9:59 a.m.

 

Marsh, then called Marsh & McLennan, was the first major broker to institutionalize the practice of workers’ compensation cost containment. I led the development effort and Harry Taback was my boss (photo at right), a huge proponent of providing the service to their clients. He was lost that day and left behind three daughters and a wife. Several years later, I had moved from Marsh to AON and Richard Keane from Wethersfield, CT, took my place running Marsh’s worker’ compensation cost containment practice. He occupied my old office at Marsh’s Hartford, CT, location but traveled into NYC for a meeting in Tower 1 Sept. 11 and was killed. My fortune at his expense was similar to colleague Pamela Newman's, an account executive at AON who was lucky enough to be traveling OUT of NYC Sept. 11, 2001. She subsequently became the defacto collector of lists of those who were safe, those who were not, and those who were still missing as reports rolled in that horrible day and the days that followed. These events and near misses have left me with the chilling remembrance that it could have been me. It continually reminds me that today is really the only day we have.                                                                                                            

 

So great were both companies' losses in 2011 that I came out of retirement; so many of the risk management experts died that day, working on the affected floors that additional help was needed by those of us who had left the company prior to that day. I still have not been able to return to retirement. My missed retirement is nothing though compared to Richard's death. He left behind five sons and a wife.

 

I don't make plans on Sept. 11 because I feel I need to keep the day sacred, to remember the victims. Several years ago, when my hometown Storrs, CT, wanted to have its annual Town Parade and Fair that day, I objected and another date was chosen. Each year, I spend the anniversary indoors, watching TV coverage, usually all day, and often wonder who else, affected on the margins as I was, does the same thing. In 11 years, survivors remarry, children grow up, companies merge, employees leave – it is a whole new landscape out there and many people in our industry do not know the history of colleagues that were lost before they entered the field. But it is as if those directly touched by the attacks have a tattoo of 9/11 on their souls – a permanent mark.

 

I have a tribute book published by The New York Times, Portraits of Grief 9/11/01, which lists each victim like a Who's Who of Tragedy. There's something about that book; it sits there and I can't get rid of it, but it's not something one digs into often, either. I even thought I would give away the book last year – it had been 10 years, after all. But I looked inside and just couldn't throw it away or donate it because that didn't seem right. The book’s publisher, the New York Times, was one of our favorite clients; we all worked together on a workers' compensation consulting project for the New York Times. Bob Ferris (photo above left) had a soft spot for the New York Times account. Bob was one of my consultants at AON Management Institute and I remember driving with him once on our way to the Trade Center for a meeting down Henry Hudson Parkway on the west side of Manhattan because our Manhattan office had been recently relocated to the World Trade Center. Rumor had it that the rent was cheap because of the prior bombings at that location. It was a long drive and we could see the towers in the distance. They were massive, and as we got closer to them we had a casual conversation about "Wow, they are soo big. What if there was ever a fire in there?" We were thinking “fire” as the worst case scenario but we never really thought it could happen because, well, so many safety measures are in place, right? But Bob was killed and is in that book. This kind of magical logic that keeps me tied to my grief. I cannot help myself. And, frankly, I'm not sure if I should give it up because it would be like throwing what little I have left of them away, too.

 

Marsh and AON have done a remarkable job with their memorial websites. If you care to share the memories of those who have made an imprint on this industry in the past, their websites are below.
 
 
Marsh Memorial: http://memorial.mmc.com/
 
You can read Becki's past essays on the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks here and here.
 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact Mstack@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com. 

  
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com
MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Tribute to Marsh and AON Colleagues Killed Sept. 11, 2001 — 10 Years Later

 

It is human nature
to forget and move on from tragedy. Most of us do … eventually. But those of you new to Work Comp Roundup may not know our ties to Sept 11, 10 years ago today. We will never move on, only adapt.
 
 
Nestled in the World Trade Center Towers were two of the largest insurance brokers in the world, Marsh and AON – giants in workers compensation. As Roundup’s founder, I had been an employee of both companies and had recently retired when the towers fell. Nearly 600 people, so many friends and colleagues, were lost that day between those two companies. Some of these people were key to the field of workers' compensation cost containment, working beside us and supporting our efforts to build cost containment into formalized practices. They helped bring cost reduction to many companies.
 
 
A horrible day, with information coming in slowly and unsurely about survivors. On TV, they told us how exit procedures “should” be working. Many tried to evacuate but were told everything was under control, so they went back into the building. Some, who were leaving despite the "all clear" messages, found people crammed so tightly in the stairwells from the 35th floor down that it was difficult to get out. Firefighters were trying to get up the stairs; building occupants were trying to get down.
 
 
Myself and everyone who had worked for Marsh and AON, or was still working there, were calling around, trying to find out who was missing, who had checked in, and who were known to be safe. Several senior company employees were doing their best to keep as many people as possible informed, while also making plans to get to New York to help. AON is based in Chicago, so some there were trying to decide if they should go to New York or wait to be given direction. At AON, Pamela Newman told us who had been located as news slowly trickled in; news was slow because there were no longer office phones. At Marsh, Jim Connolly was letting me know who was found while trying to organize a remote response. One supervisor, Phil Petronis, was found. Another, Harry Taback, was not. As the first broker to institutionalize workers compensation cost containment, Harry and Phil were at the helm.
 
 
Since many were still turning up at local hospitals, there was a lot of people-matching going on. The list of victims was not firmed up. Who was traveling? Who was in the building at that time? Who got out?
 
 
Harry, my former boss at M&M PC, a unit of Marsh, was on the impact floors at 1 World Trade Center. We saw the son of a colleague from AON, Bob Ferris, on TV holding a photo of his dad – looking, looking. We learned days later Bob did not make it. In many cases, we didn't actually hear that someone didn't make it, but rather we just never heard that they did, or we saw that a memorial service was scheduled. Even the safety experts on the news were people from the company — experts in building safety. While we waited for information, professionals talked about what fire can do to a building – or a person.
 
 
Many of us did not like working in such huge, tall buildings, and had been disappointed to have our offices moved to that location. Some of us were safety professionals who knew the dangers of being in such a large building. They imagined the impossibility of getting out of such a building if it were to burn, and we talked about it once when we saw the buildings looming ahead of us as we drove down the Henry Hudson Parkway on the west side of Manhattan enroute to the World Trade Center. No one ever imagined this, however.
 
 
Sept. 11 was a day of meetings at the Trade Center. The man who replaced me when I left Marsh, Richard Keane, sat at my old desk in Hartford, CT. That day he made a rare trip to Marsh’s New York office. It was a meeting I would have attended. He was killed that day, and left five sons and his wife.
 
 
The only blessing is that Marsh, on floors 93 through 100 in the North Tower, 1 World Trade Center, was smack-dab at the point of the AA Flight 11 impact, 8:46 a.m. I’d like to think they neither saw what was coming, nor suffered. We will never know. Apparently, almost no one above floor 92 survived.
 
 
AON was on floors 98 through 105 in 2 World Trade Center, the South Tower. It was struck on floors 77 through 85 by United Flight 175 at 9:03 a.m. and was the first to collapse at 9:59 a.m. Some people above the point of impact in this tower were able to escape but it is from this tower where the horrible images of employees jumping comes from. It is something I cannot get out of my head. It’s hard thinking that your colleagues may have had to make that kind of choice.
 
 
The events were so tragic that some of us will no longer work in high buildings. When we have to stay in hotels, we request “low floors,” accessible by fire equipment. We make sure we know where the fire escapes are and how the windows open. We pay attention to evacuation drills. It will be like this for the rest of our lives.
 
 
One friend I know still works for a broker in NY and was in the Trade Center Sept. 11. She had to crawl out over some of her dead colleagues to get to the stairwell. She made it out, but is a very quiet person now. A regular day at the office turned into a war-like memory. No one expects that. She and I simply never talk about it.
 
 
Life marches on. There was a need. Insurance may not be the most glamorous business – but it is a necessary business, and all of the Marsh and AON employees were dedicated to the business and to each other. Injured workers deserve compensation and companies must budget appropriately to stay in business. There will always be a need for insurance.
 
 
My focus changed. Those of us who had been retired from Marsh and AON, quickly accepted assignments to do whatever was needed to help. I had been retired, but went back to work to help complete several projects for AON that employees who died in the Trade Center would not be able to finish. I finished Lisa’s project as an outsourced risk manager for a Stamford-based company. She worked off-site several days each week at this position, but on Sept. 11, 2001, she was in her office at AON in lower Manhattan, in the South Tower.
 
 
It is human nature to forget. To heal and move on. But, for those of us touched by this horrible event and lucky enough to survive – we know – if we forget, there is no one left to tell the story.
 
 
Marsh and AON have done a remarkable job with their memorial websites. If you care to share the memories of those who have made an imprint on this industry in the past, their websites are below.
 
 
Marsh Memorial: http://memorial.mmc.com/
 
Author: Rebecca Shafer, J.D. Rebecca is a national industry leader in the field of workers’ compensation cost containment. She can be reached at RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com   www.LowerWC.com and http://blog.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Cancer Still Not Covered for World Trade Center Responders

 
After the New York City World Trade Centers fell, images of responders rushing in unprotected to help victims of the terrorist attach Sept. 11, 2001, are burned into the memories of every American.
 
 
Discussion loomed immediately about toxins in the air from particulate matter, burning materials, airplane fuel and more. Of course there was nothing victims could do to protect themselves and first responders, in a rush to help as quickly as possible, did not stop to assess the danger they put themselves in.
 
 
Now, a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report indicates there is not enough evidence to link the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers to cancer in responders and survivors. The study means those groups will not be able to collect federal money for treatment or compensation
 
 
However, the report also does not indicate evidence of the absence of a causal association. And another review is scheduled for early 2012.
 
 
Under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, there must be periodic reviews of scientific and medical evidence. If a causal association were established, recovery workers and others with cancer diagnoses could be compensable.
 
 
The Zadroga Act provides funds for a specific list of illnesses, such as asthma and other respiratory diseases linked to the 911 attacks. Cancer could be included if a link was found.
 
 
The initial review was based on three information sources, according to NIOSH:

1.     
A systematic search of peer-reviewed findings on exposure and cancer resulting from the terrorist attacks that have been published in the scientific and medical literature between Sept. 11, 2001, and July 1, 2011.

2.     
Findings and recommendations related to cancer from the WTC Clinical Centers of Excellence and Data Centers, the WTC Health Registry at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the New York State Department of Health.

3.     
Information from the public solicited through requests for information published in the Federal Register earlier this year.
 
 
The report said there was little evidence because few published research studies on the attack mention cancer and only a small number of those are peer-reviewed. Further, cancer is a common disease, making linkage difficult, the report said. (WCxKit)
 
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

345 Ground Zero Workers Have Died of Cancer As of Last June

For the first time, a New York City official is reporting a rise in cancer for firefighters who served at Ground Zero, according to The New York Post.
 
 
Dr. David Prezant, the Fire Departments chief medical officer, discovered that firefighters who dug for victims at the World Trade Center are getting cancer at a larger rate than firefighters prior to 9/11 — and some forms of cancer are "bizarrely off the charts," claim sources briefed on the seven-year, federally funded study. (WCxKit)
 
 
Prezant discussed the findings with members of a WTC medical-monitoring committee last month, according to several attendees.
 
 
He has not yet unveiled the data, but sources claim he has cited unusual increases in three blood cancers — leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple myeloma — as well as esophageal, prostate and thyroid cancers.
 
 
The report, slated for publication around the 10th anniversary of 9/11, would be the first to document a cancer-rate increase among rescue and recovery workers.
 
 
The city recently came to settlement on lawsuits by 10,000 WTC workers, more than 600 with cancer.
 
 
But officials have so far stood by the fact that there is no scientific proof that Ground Zero smoke and dust caused cancer.
 
 
Prezant noted researchers have compiled medical records for three years and had access to state cancer registries, though New York's is three years behind. "Those things keep adding cases," he informed the group.
 
 
In 2007, doctors at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, which monitors WTC responders other than FDNY, reported seeing blood cancers like multiple myeloma, which normally strikes in the 60s or 70s, among relatively young cops. (WCxKit)
 
 
The state Health Department has confirmed that 345 Ground Zero workers have passed away due to various cancers as of last June.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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