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THE 21ST CENTURY FIRST RESPONDERS PROTECTION ACT
In the summer of 2019, the Thomas P. Canzanella 21st Century First Responders Protection Act became law in New Jersey. This impactful piece of legislation enhances safeguards for first responders, including those who volunteered during and after 9/11.
Therefore, it is appropriate to assure they are provided with a higher level of support commensurate with their sacrifice.
Changing the Burden of Proof for All Public SafetyWorkers
The Canzanella Act changes the burden of proof for public safety workers, including paid and volunteer firefighters, police officers, members of community emergency response teams, members of first aid or rescue squads, and medical personnel responding to catastrophic incidents. The Act provides that if a public safety worker demonstrates exposure to a serious communicable disease, biological warfare, an epidemic-related pathogen, carcinogen, vaccine, or biological toxin, all medical screening for disease shall be covered through workers’ compensation. If the worker is diagnosed with a disease in the future following such an exposure, there is now a rebuttable presumption that the injury, disability, or death caused by the disease is causally related to the employment and shall therefore be covered by workers’ compensation. The presumption of causal relationship may only be rebutted by “clear and convincing proof” that the exposure is not linked to the injury or death. Firefighters and Cancer The new law provides specific protections for firefighters in particular, due to their frequent smoke inhalation. Any disability or death of a firefighter caused by pulmonary disease or cancer is presumed to be compensable under the WCA if the firefighter has completed at least seven years of service. The firefighter may be required to undergo, at the expense of their employer, reasonable testing and monitoring to evaluate causal relationship. Right to Know About Exposure Unless the exposure was obvious, how would employees even know that they have come into contact with a dangerous substance? Employers are already required to maintain records
regarding the presence of known carcinogens and other dangerous substances under the New Jersey Right to Know (RTK) law. All employers covered by the RTK law must submit a list of all hazardous chemicals to either the Department of Health or Department of Environmental Protection. Those surveys are then sent out to local fire and police departments. The Canzanella Act also requires employers to maintain records regarding dangerous substances present at locations where public servants were deployed if they were personally exposed to carcinogens. Hope for Our Heroes Despite all of the advances we have made in modern medicine, science is often still unable to pinpoint the cause of many diseases. While employers should not be required to bear the burden of covering the cost of conditions which may be entirely unrelated to employment, our public safety workers need to know that they and their families will be protected should they fall in the line of duty. By establishing a rebuttable presumption of causal relationship following an exposure to dangerous substances, New Jersey law now enables our heroes to access workers’ compensation benefits swiftly. My dad, a former member of the NYPD and the reason why first responders will always hold a special place in my heart
The Difficulty of Proving an Occupational Disease
In the past, public safety workers responding to a terrorist attack or natural disaster would face the same burden of proof as any other employee under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) to obtain medical and disability benefits. The WCA provides that it is the injured worker’s burden to prove that an occupational disease arose from and in the course of employment, and the WCA limits compensation to those occupational diseases which are due “in a material degree” to conditions which are “characteristic of or peculiar to a particular … place of employment.” For example, if an employee exposed to carcinogenic chemicals at work also smoked cigarettes at some point in his life, he must prove that the cancer developed in a material degree due to the chemical exposure as opposed to smoking to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Given that many diseases take years to manifest after exposure, establishing causation is far from simple. The process of litigating the causation issue in occupational disease claims is long and arduous. Even when such claimants prevail in court, compensation is often awarded too late to help the injured worker battling a debilitating illness.
Why Claims by First Responders Should Be Treated Differently
First responders are required to take great personal risks in performing their duties to protect the public from the dangers of various types of emergencies, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and health epidemics.
Our first responders do not hesitate to protect us. We must not hesitate to protect them.
–Lisa Pezzano Mickey
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HONORING THE CANINES OF 9/11 The 4-Legged Heroes of Ground Zero
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to clear rubble, offer supplies, and search for survivors. It was a powerful act of resilience in a deeply trying time, and while most of the individuals helping with the disaster stood on two feet, more than 300 canines also answered the call to service.
Some dogs that found deceased victims refused to eat or interact with other animals. Search and rescue dogs became increasingly stressed and depressed the longer they searched without any results, mirroring their handlers. It wasn’t uncommon for handlers to stage mock “findings” of survivors to keep the dogs’ spirits up.
Dogs of all breeds and backgrounds, including search and rescue dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, were brought in to help find and care for survivors in the wake of the destruction. They worked tirelessly alongside rescue crews as they searched through the debris. Search and rescue dogs and their handlers worked 12–16-hour days, searching for survivors and victims. They worked through dangerous conditions: Many dogs burned their paws as they dug through hot rubble, and both handlers and canines inhaled toxic dust. The task was both physically and mentally exhausting for the dogs during their shifts.
Fortunately, the sacrifices these dogs and their handlers made did not go unnoticed. Many dog owners were inspired to earn their search and rescue certifications after the events of 9/11, promising to aid in future disasters and hopefully lessen the impact of such catastrophes. After 9/11, various researchers conducted many studies examining the effect this kind of work has on animals, both physically and mentally. Many of these studies wouldn’t be possible without the AKC Canine Health Foundation, so if you’re looking to give back this September, visit them at their website to see how you can help: AKCCHF.org.
What Happened in Reed Springs? HOW A SMALL TOWNWENT BANKRUPT OVER A POTHOLE
In 2002, the quaint town of Reed Springs, Missouri, declared bankruptcy. The hard decision came after the town was forced to pay $100,000 to Sally Stewart, a woman who sued Reed Springs after she tripped over a pothole during a shopping trip. News of a greedy woman ruining a small village to make a quick buck sparked outrage across the country. But Stewart wasn’t the real villain of this story. A little digging into this case reveals a much deeper conspiracy. Stewart had been visiting Reed Springs in 1998 when she tripped on a pothole hidden beneath some overgrown grass on the sidewalk. But this was no small stumble. Stewart tore two ligaments in her ankle and
had to undergo surgery. To help pay for the medical bills, Stewart, who’d never sued anyone before, initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the store in front of the pothole. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals determined the city of Reed Springs was liable for Stewart’s injuries. The court ordered Reed Springs to pay Stewart $100,000, over half the city’s annual budget. Despite the high price tag, in normal circumstances, this verdict wouldn’t have forced Reed Springs to declare bankruptcy because the town’s insurance would have covered the bill. Unfortunately, at the time of Stewart’s accident, the mayor of Reed Springs was a corrupt man named Joe Dan Dwyer. Dwyer left office while being investigated for insurance fraud, child pornography, statutory rape, witness bribery, and perjury, and he was later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Among his many indiscretions, Dwyer also let the town’s insurance policy lapse. Reed Springs didn’t have insurance when Sally Stewart got hurt, which is why they had to write a check out of their own budget and ultimately declare bankruptcy. In this case, what started as a simple pothole accident quickly unveiled the lasting damage of an unscrupulous politician. Perhaps this case serves as reminder about why it’s important to vote in local elections.
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TAKE A BREAK
Have you ever wanted to experience the colors of a Boston fall while enjoying the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors? Autumn leaves are a universally appreciated sign of the changing seasons, and there’s no better place to see those vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds on display than in one of America’s national parks. So, if you’ve got some free time this autumn, here are some parks worth seeing. THE BEST NATIONAL PARKS TO VISIT THIS FALL While the maple, birch, and poplar trees of Acadia begin to change color in September, mid-October is the best time to witness autumn in full swing. The park is crisscrossed with unpaved trails that date back to a time of horse-drawn carriages, preserving an idyllic setting. If you want to see the colors in full effect, take a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, and watch the sun crest over the vibrant leaves. To fully experience fall in the Northeastern U.S., Acadia National Park is a must-see. Acadia National Park, Maine
CACIO E PEPE
Inspired by Bon Appétit
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
6 oz pasta, ideally spaghetti or bucatini 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and divided 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, ideally Parmigiano- Reggiano 1/3 cup finely grated pecorino cheese Kosher salt, for pasta water and to taste
Further south, the autumn colors of the Smoky Mountains are no less breathtaking than those in the Northeast. This park offers many scenic lookout points accessible by car, so don’t worry about hoofing it into the forest if that’s not your thing. Park wherever you like and watch the warm colors of ancient maples, oaks, and cedars change before your eyes.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stopping 2 minutes short of desired doneness. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. 2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add pepper and cook until toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. 3. Transfer pasta and remaining butter to pan and reduce heat to low. Add Parmesan and cook until melted, tossing pasta throughout. Remove pan from heat and add pecorino, continuing to toss until cheese is melted and sauce coats pasta. 4. Transfer to bowls and serve.
While the West might typically be associated with evergreen pines, the deciduous trees of the relatively small Grand Teton National Park pack a colorful punch starting around the third week of September. It’s also breeding season for elk in the area, and their high, eerie whistles can be heard in the evenings. Popular destinations in the park include the Christian Pond Loop and String Lake. Just because the weather is cooling down doesn’t mean you have to abandon your favorite national parks until next summer. The natural beauty of America can be experienced at any time of the year, so start planning your next autumn outdoor excursion!
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
A New Law Extends Protection to First Responders
Honoring the Canines of 9/11 A Surprising Reason for Bankruptcy
Cacio e Pepe The Vibrant Colors of America’s National Parks
Why Are So Many People Deciding Not to Retire?
FINDING FULFILLMENT IN YOUR GOLDEN YEARS Why More Adults Over 55 Continue toWork
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, upward of 40% of people aged 55 and older are continuing to work past the normal retirement age. There are a number of reasons why people are choosing to stay employed, with one of the biggest being a lack of retirement funds, but some are also using work to keep their minds and skills sharp. In fact, most of the jobs that the 55-plus crowd goes after keep them engaged with the community and help them lead more active lives.
ones. This balance is exactly what many older workers are looking for, especially those who are “part-time retired.”
More importantly, however, most older workers find these jobs fulfilling. They allow older folks to interact with the community and stay active, both of which, research suggests, are essential to healthy living as people age. For many, working past retirement, or not leaving the workforce entirely, can be a win-win-win: It’s a win for your bank account, a win for your health, and a win for the community.
The BLS categorized the jobs many older workers are currently pursuing:
Real estate appraisers/assessors
• Property/real estate/community association managers • Technical writers • Tax preparers • Construction/building inspectors • Crossing guards • Clergy These seven jobs are projected to grow between 8–14% over the next six years according to BLS data. They often pay well and don’t always require a full-time commitment. Many even offer flexible schedules, which can help older workers spend more time with peers or loved
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