Newsday
December 3, 2010

Ehmer Becomes 30th Cop To Die

After 9/11 Illness

Lynch Urges 'Zadroga' Passage

By MARK TOOR

Patrick J. Lynch: "Never let them out."    
PATRICK J. LYNCH: What is Senate waiting for?

 

The 986th first-responder to die from exposure to toxic materials at the World Trade Center site was buried last week, with Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch urging passage of a Federal bill to pay the medical expenses of those sickened by their time on the pile.“We’re here today once again to bury a police officer, the 30th to die from illness after Sept. 11,” he said Nov. 24 at the funeral home where retired Police Officer Robert Ehmer, 47, was waked in East Islip, L.I. “As we are doing this, in Washington — 10 years later — they are still debating and discussing.”

83 Other Officers Hospitalized

“We have now lost more police officers to 9/11-related illness than we did in the collapse that day,” he continued. “And we have 83 more police officers that we know are in hospitals.”

Mr. Lynch and other union leaders have been urging the U.S. Senate to approve the James Zadroga Bill, named for a Detective who died of cancer, which would provide $7.4 billion in funding to cover treatment of workers at Ground Zero. The House of Representatives passed the bill Sept. 29. But the bill needs 60 votes to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, and only 59 Senators — 58 Democrats and one Republican — have committed to vote for it.

Advocates for the first-responders are pressing the Senate to pass it before the end of the year. If it isn’t passed, it will have to go through the process again when the next Congress takes office in January and Republicans, some of whom have criticized the bill as an entitlement for New Yorkers, will hold a majority in the House and pick up six seats in the Senate.

Mr. Ehmer, a 20-year veteran of the NYPD who worked in the 110th Precinct, died of kidney cancer Nov. 21. He retired in 2005 and was found to have stage 4 cancer two years later.

Accepted Settlement Offer

He worked at the World Trade Center site for several weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attack, helping to search for the remains of victims and remove debris.

Mr. Ehmer had accepted an offer of $50,000 to $150,000 in the lawsuit against the city to compensate Ground Zero responders, his sister, Annette Ehmer, told Newsday. A settlement in the suit was approved by the responders in mid-November. “He knew he was dying and he didn’t want to wait,” she said. “He was hoping to have had it by now. The other drug that he wanted to go on, Medicare wouldn’t pay for. If he would have had this money sooner, he would have had no problem shelling out $8,000 a month for the treatment. He fought until the last breath he had.”