Watch Video | Listen to the AudioBy Laura Fong and Sam Weber
When Ken George was sent to the site of the World Trade Center after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, he thought he was going to be directing traffic.
George worked for the New York City Department of Transportation, but when he arrived at the site that first night, he was quickly put to work sorting through and removing debris, including human remains.
“That psychologically took a toll on me,” he said. “I wasn’t trained for none of that stuff.”
But it wasn’t just mental stress. Over the next several months, George worked 750 hours at the site, where he was exposed to airborne toxins and dust and rarely wore a mask to cover his face.
Today, George is one of many first responders still dealing with the long-term health effects, both physical and mental, of having been a first responder at the World Trade Center. He has been diagnosed with a myriad of respiratory illnesses, but also post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes he ha