I was contacted on Gmail by a young man named Matthew Phillips who asked to contribute a guest post for this blog. He's a student at the University of Central Florida and an advocate for assuring that EMS people, firefighters and police have the knowledge to protect themselves in environments where the danger may not be obvious. He also enjoys writing and is trying to get experience in all types of topics to expand "his pallet".
Here's Matt's contribution. Feel freee to comment to him here.
When I was eight years old, we lost our house, and not because my parents couldn’t pay the bills. It was because of Hurricane Marilyn, the “big one” that wrecked my home and threw my family into a state of hopeless chaos. I remember my mom wrapping shaky arms around me and my 18 month old brother. She was 7 months pregnant and... well, terrified.
I also remember the moment I felt like everything would be okay. My father had walked for miles to find us help and when he finally returned, he wasn’t alone. Those trained to relieve the panic and suffering of others stepped in. Our family and others like us received food, medical attention and information that probably saved our lives and certainly made it easier for us to go on.
But here’s my question. Who’s saving the life-savers?
Prior to the mid 1970’s, car parts, home insulation, dry wall, and heating appliances contained a natural mineral called asbestos. Because of its heat and fire-resistant qualities, asbestos was supposed to make homes and families safer.
But when disturbed by crashes, storm damages, and fire, asbestos fibers are released into the air. When inhaled, the fibers can cause a deadly lung cancer. Mesothelioma symptoms are often subtle and can be confused with symptoms of more common, more treatable illnesses.
Don’t wait for symptoms of mesothelioma to show. Because of an extremely long latency period (20-50 years), symptoms often don’t lead to diagnosis until the cancer has metastasized. Treatment then becomes difficult or impossible and life expectancy is usually no more than a few months.
Because EMT’s, firefighters, and other emergency response professionals and volunteers are required to work in places like car accident scenes and older homes and buildings, they are at high risk of asbestos exposure. Though the government has created assistance acts for those already exposed to the poison, prevention is the best solution to the problem.
To help prevent mesothelioma and to help save the lives of those who work to save ours, share what you know. Information is powerful and knowledge can promote mesothelioma screenings and the elimination of all asbestos use. We can do our part to help.
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