Students explore health impacts of 9/11 disaster in New York

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been exploring the health effects of the 9/11 disaster in New York.

As part of their packed #DMUglobal itinerary, final-year students from the faculty of Health and Life Sciences attended the headquarters of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where they were given a series of talks from staff who are responsible for protecting and promoting the health of all New Yorkers.


The students first heard from Dr James Cone, Medical Director of the World Trade Centre Health Registry, which is the largest registry in U.S. history.

The registry conducts research into the effects of 9/11 and helps those impacted by the disaster to make informed decisions about their health. It aims to track the diverse population of people exposed to 9/11 over a long period of time, including rescue workers, local residents and school children.

Dr Cone spoke about the enduring impact of 9/11 and explained how health effects can range from respiratory problems, cancer, mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, heart disease and hearing loss.

Further talks covered mental health planning, how the health department works in partnership with pharmacies, how New York prepares for major emergencies and the ways that different agencies work together in response to a major incident.

Mental Health Nursing student Roxanne Burdett found the visit ‘really interesting’, particularly because so many elements were relevant to her specialist field of mental health.

She said: “It was really interesting to hear that even when dealing with physical health during an event like 9/11 it’s also important to address mental health. I’m very passionate that mental health should be treated with the same sincerity as physical health.

“I’ve learned a lot, especially how the different agencies work together in an emergency and how it is all funded.”

The students have also visited the National September 11 Museum during their visit to New York, and Children’s Nursing student Rhianne Stanley was pleased to be able to build on that with what was covered in these talks.

She said: “There was a lot of insight, it was good to hear what they would do if an emergency like 9/11 were to happen again. Today meant we could understand more about what we’d seen at the museum yesterday.

“My job in future could be in an emergency department so it was interesting to see what the response to an emergency here is.”

Rebecca Etherington, also a Children’s Nursing student, added: “It’s interesting to see how they have taken something so tragic as 9/11 and how they have learned from it to make things better.

“The disaster planning side of things was very interesting – in nursing no matter where you work in the hospital you can be faced with tragic events.”

Trip Lead Carol Greenway believes that this visit will have long-lasting academic benefits for the students.

She said: “Students had the opportunity yesterday to walk through the 9/11 disaster from a very experienced guide and then today they have been able to hear about the physical and mental effects it had on people.

“It has been opportunity for science students from different courses to learn from each other and understand the impact this disaster has had. The key thing is seeing how different agencies work together, that is a really important thing they’ve learned here which resonates with what they’ve learned back home.”

As part of their New York itinerary, students have also visited the National September 11 Museum, the Renal Research Institute and had a session about the public health issues around chronic kidney disease, which was led by DMU honorary professor Marie Richards.
Posted on Thursday 7 June 2018

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