Sal was one of many first responders in 9/11. His professional commitment to the FDNY and to the City of New York placed his life and well-being at extremely elevated risks in many rescue calls and even more so each day that he spent directly exposed to the deadly dust of Ground Zero. His experiences as a 9/11 rescue member help us identify the magnitude of issues that all workers underwent inside the highly toxic disaster zone, illustrating how so many have contracted the most traumatic illnesses and cancers. Now retired from “the job”, Sal continues to support the entire community of first responders as a health and wellness advocate and a public speaker about maintaining continued health checkups and a proactive approach to health, safety and wellness. He is a field ambassador for the “GET CHECKED NOW!” program developed by the clinical leaders of The New York Cancer Resource Alliance (NYCRA) and is also one of the supporting publishers of the HealthscanNYC.org Newsletter.
NYCRA is comprised of 9/11 survivors and caregivers united to form a public outreach organization to support all emergency responders through awareness efforts and access to current health resources. Sal Banchitta spearheads this effort tirelessly by conducting seminars and group presentations in firehouses and group meetings – delivering real-life experiences leading to vital care information (clinical services, news, grants, connections with non-profit foundations, etc.) with the core mission to support PREVENTION and EARLY DETECTION for all survivors.
THE NEW MISSION & A LIFE-LONG CALL
As with most community-driven crusaders, Sal recalls the day that he says convinced him of this calling.
I was at a gas station one day in Woodside
and I fell into conversation with someone on the other side of the pump.
It happens all too often between any two strangers
wearing FD New York jackets or shirts.
Without even exchanging names, we got into it about my retirement,
where I operated, then 9/11, both my tour and his.
He expressed immediate concerns about his own health
in conjunction to a few firefighters
that he knew personally that recently passed away.
They were once in perfect health,
and then all of a sudden they’re gone … it was that quick.
It was obvious that is what got him extremely worried.
Amazing timing from the heavens,
I handed him my postcard about NYCRA
and told him about cancer screening for anyone exposed to Ground Zero.
There are things that you can do to be ahead of the curve and to be vigilant.
Since then, I’m finding these guys everywhere
and hearing about more and more stories that you just can’t ignore.
THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT
Life is the most precious gift of all …
including the undying love and support from our families,
our friends and the entire community at large —
reminding us that ours was a job worth doing!
Rescuers risk everything for the continuance of all this …
for everyone and for ourselves!
Sal Banchitta’s contributions to the First Responders Cancer Resource shows his heart is still in the right place for the society of firefighters – both retired and active. He finds a major need for this advocacy “for the ‘under-informed’, those in denial or anyone negligent about the need for proactive health checkups”.