Schumer in Amsterdam to push for firefighter cancer registry

July 07, 2017 03:32 PM

AMSTERDAM - Firefighters in Amsterdam know they have former coworkers who are battling cancer but exactly how many and what kind of cancer isn't quantified.

"Nothing formally or official...we just know of a few cases over the years," explained Chief Mike Whitty.

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It's the same, most likely, at all professional and volunteer departments.  However, legislation introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D - New York) could change that.  The bill would create a national registry that would track firefighter cancer cases.

"It would be the first time in one we know the trends," explained Schumer in Amsterdam on Friday afternoon.

The registry would be anonymous and submitting information would also be voluntary for firefighters and EMTs.  All the information would be managed by epidemiologists with the Centers for Disease Control. 

"The starting point is knowledge...helps us to figure it out much faster," added Schumer.

The immediate goal is to improve cancer incidence understanding that would lead to increased safety protocols and safeguards.  Life-saving research would also be enhanced with increased understanding and finally determining what materials cause the certain types of cancer that firefighters seem to be prone to might help prevent future cases.

"Five years later, ten years later, that's when we discover these things and they draw common connections to this firefighter cancer," said Whitty.

Schumer first introduced similar legislation last August.  NewsChannel 13 asked him Friday what makes him confident it would be passed this time around. He said even though Washington is very divided right now, this bill has bipartisan support.


Abigail Bleck

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