Emergency relief workers are among the first responders to emergencies and disasters. Often emergency relief workers are able to mitigate emergencies and assist injured victims. Unfortunately, because many emergency and disaster sites contain high levels of asbestos, emergency relief workers are often exposed to asbestos, putting them at risk for many serious illnesses.

Emergencies Relief Workers

Emergency relief workers respond to various types of disasters and accidents, including:

  • Plane crashes
  • Train accidents
  • Terrorist attacks (such as 9/11 terrorist attacks)
  • Hurricanes (such as Hurricane Katrina)
  • Tornadoes
  • Earthquakes (such as Northridge earthquake in California)

Emergency relief worker personnel include:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
  • Search and Rescue Teams
  • Soldiers (National Guard)
  • Volunteers

How Emergency Relief Workers are Exposed to Asbestos

When emergencies or natural disasters occur, emergency relief workers rush to the emergency site. Frequently, emergency relief workers arrive at emergency sites with many destroyed buildings. Many of the destroyed buildings that emergency relief workers encounter were constructed using materials that contain asbestos. When emergencies and natural disasters destroy buildings that contain asbestos, large amounts of asbestos fibers are released into the air. Consequently, emergency relief workers are exposed to asbestos fibers, which may cause many emergency relief workers to develop severe and fatal diseases.

Emergency Relief Workers and Asbestos Exposure Dangers

Asbestos is dangerous when its fibers are inhaled. Unfortunately, many emergency relief workers inhale asbestos fibers at emergency and natural disasters sites. When emergency relief workers inhale asbestos fibers, the fibers remain lodged in their bodies, and can cause severe and fatal diseases such as:

  • Mesothelioma (a cancer that affects the lining surrounding the lungs)
  • Asbestosis (lung tissue scarring)
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal, stomach, colon, or rectum cancer 

Emergency Relief Worker Training

Emergency relief workers require intense training to prepare and practice for responding to emergencies and natural disasters. Emergency relief worker training requires workers to come in contact with huge piles of rubble, which resemble collapsed buildings. Unfortunately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified their Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) unit that their emergency relief workers were exposed to increased asbestos levels at the training site at Holsworthy Army Barracks. As it turns out, the USAR emergency relief workers were practicing rescue operations among huge piles of rubble that contained asbestos. Because asbestos-caused cancers, like mesothelioma, can take up to 30 years to develop, USAR emergency relief workers may not be cleared of infections for many years.

Injured Emergency Relief Worker

If you or a loved one were an Emergency Relief Worker and were injured from asbestos exposure, please contact our asbestos attorneys today for a free case evaluation. 

Published November 17, 2011 by