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Old 11-01-2007, 09:49 AM   #1
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The Science Says This Was Not A Hero

So do such flaws disqualify anyone from hero status? What is a hero? Do they have to be flawless, without weakness?

NYC mayor's remark sparks `hero' debate

By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press WriterThu Nov 1

The conclusion that a police detective who died of a lung ailment after toiling for months at ground zero may have been injecting drugs has led to a heated debate about what constitutes a hero.

The argument over James Zadroga's death echoes a situation in Boston, where two lauded firefighters who died in a blaze were later found to have been impaired on the job. One had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27; the other had cocaine in his system.

The disclosures renewed concerns that police officers' and firefighters' jobs may make them prime candidates for drug and alcohol abuse.

The inner turmoil of these everyday heroes has been a staple of TV cop shows for decades, and more recently in dramas like FX television's "Rescue Me," about a group of New York City firefighters who go home to lives of alcoholism, depression and family disarray.

Experts say there may be truth behind the fiction.

"We might think of them as stress resilient," said Dr. Terence Keane, who heads the behavioral science division of the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

But the reality, he said, is that the on-the-job pressure for these emergency service workers can be overwhelming. "Their job is 95 percent boredom and 5 percent terror," he said.

The pressure can grow even greater after a major disaster like the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Studies have indicated that a number of first responders suffered from post-tramatic stress disorder.

"The amount of loss was so extreme that it could have exacerbated existing problems with mood, anxiety, alcohol and drugs," Keane said.

The question is, do such flaws disqualify someone from hero status?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested this week that Zadroga's public image had been altered by a medical examiner's report indicating that the detective had injected ground-up pills, which lodged in his lungs.

"We wanted to have a hero. There are plenty of heroes. It's just that in this case, the science says this was not a hero," Bloomberg said Monday.

Later, confronted with public outrage over his comments, Bloomberg backpedalled, calling Zadroga "a great NYPD officer" who had repeatedly risked his life for the city and had gotten sick from breathing contaminated air at ground zero.

He said it would be up to the public to decide whether Zadroga was a hero.

"You can use your own definition," Bloomberg said. "I think it's a question of how you want to define what a hero is."

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, a Pittsburgh-based philanthropy that awards medals and cash grants to people who perform heroic acts, doesn't have a problem deciding who deserves recognition. As of this month, 9,130 people had received a Carnegie Medal.

The commission looks at the act of bravery itself, not the person's background or moral character, spokesman Douglas Chambers said.

"Whether that person had a shady background, or had been incarcerated or was a child abuser ... none of that information is important to us," Chambers said. "We don't care. All we care about is the act. Did that rescuer risk his or her life to an extraordinary degree?"

Past recipients, he noted, included a prison inmate who saved a guard from an attacking dog.

Whether Zadroga or Boston firefighters Paul Cahill and Warren Payne are heroes isn't a question the Carnegie commission will address; with some exceptions, the group generally focuses on recognizing civilians who are drawn unexpectedly into extraordinary circumstances.

Zadroga's family has disputed the allegations that his son took any medications improperly, and at least two other medical experts have concluded that the material found in his respiratory system included microscopic shards of World Trade Center debris.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said this month he was angry and disappointed over the autopsy reports of Cahill and Payne, who died in a fire last summer, but also suggested that the hero label still sticks.

"Two of Boston's finest died doing their job keeping our city safe," he said.
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:02 AM   #2
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Since when is the word "hero" a title that can be added and removed from someone like a degree?

If they save lives,
Firefighter = hero
Police officer = hero
Soldier = hero

End of story. What they do in their personal time should not diminish from the fact that these people save lives.

You want distasteful? Look at the mayor of NYC. For unilaterally and arbitrarily "removing" hero "status" from this man, Bloomberg ought to be strung up by the eyelids and kicked in the balls until he blinks.
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:07 PM   #3
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I'm with you Dave, 100%. These guys put their lives on the line to save somebody else's...for Bloomberg to say otherwise, doubtless as political gamesmanship, is a disgrace.
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC
Since when is the word "hero" a title that can be added and removed from someone like a degree?

If they save lives,
Firefighter = hero
Police officer = hero
Soldier = hero

End of story. What they do in their personal time should not diminish from the fact that these people save lives.

You want distasteful? Look at the mayor of NYC. For unilaterally and arbitrarily "removing" hero "status" from this man, Bloomberg ought to be strung up by the eyelids and kicked in the balls until he blinks.
There are a lot of crooked cops and war criminals out there.
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Old 11-01-2007, 06:15 PM   #5
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EXCELLENT post, DaveC. You said it all .

Angela
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Old 11-01-2007, 06:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC
Since when is the word "hero" a title that can be added and removed from someone like a degree?

If they save lives,
Firefighter = hero
Police officer = hero
Soldier = hero

End of story. What they do in their personal time should not diminish from the fact that these people save lives.

You want distasteful? Look at the mayor of NYC. For unilaterally and arbitrarily "removing" hero "status" from this man, Bloomberg ought to be strung up by the eyelids and kicked in the balls until he blinks.
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC

If they save lives,
Firefighter = hero
Police officer = hero
Soldier = hero

End of story.

Bush does not = hero
Rudy (911) Giuliani does not = hero
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:38 PM   #8
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Re: The Science Says This Was Not A Hero

Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
"All we care about is the act. Did that rescuer risk his or her life to an extraordinary degree?"
The definition above works for me.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep



Bush does not = hero
Rudy (911) Giuliani does not = hero
Have either of them risked their lives to save someone else's lately?

Just the opposite (in Bush's case at least).
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:27 AM   #10
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Bloomberg shouldn't be saying these things about someone who risked their life to save lives.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
"You can use your own definition," Bloomberg said. "I think it's a question of how you want to define what a hero is."
the ironic thing about this entire silly debate is that if you ask any of the policemen or firemen, they'll tell you that they are not hero's, that they're just doing their job.

we're just a label obsessed country. everyone's definition of what a hero is to them is different. obviously the overwelming majority of cops and firemen are heros, and bad people can do heroic acts, but a dirty cop is not a hero.
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Old 11-02-2007, 01:00 PM   #12
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The mayor not only diminished the person. He diminished the act. Perhaps next time someone wants to rush into a burning building, we ought to stop them long enough to do a background check to determine if this is an acceptable enough person to do a rescue. Heroism is what you do, not who you are. That is what they are honored for. If we demand of heroes that they be saints, we're pretty much fucked.
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Old 11-02-2007, 01:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonosSaint
The mayor not only diminished the person. He diminished the act. Perhaps next time someone wants to rush into a burning building, we ought to stop them long enough to do a background check to determine if this is an acceptable enough person to do a background. Heroism is what you do, not who you are. That is what they are honored for. If we demand of heroes that they be saints, we're pretty much fucked.
This is what I was getting at. Great post
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Old 11-02-2007, 02:15 PM   #14
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I'm with Dave.

If I was trapped in a burning building and I *know* that the fireman is over the legal limit, I wouldn't give a fuck. Please save me!!!

In my opinion, people like firefighters are already heroes, even if they never have to run into a burning building. They are heroes b/c they would if that's what it came to....
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:05 PM   #15
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Zagroda spent around 400 hours down in "the Pit" - of the World Trade Center site one; of the hellholes (temporarily) of the world.
Anyone one spending some kind of time down there i'd say was a hero.

No way with the amount of pulverized materials, fumes, gases & fire smoke -- that a bunch of peole weren't going to end up getting sick sooner or later.

In fact the 2nd visit I went to the WTC site - i started going in Nov '01-- firefighters were still using waterhoses to put smoldering fires out!
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