Debbie Reeve’s 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth and her 6-year-old son Mark cried as their mother’s casket was carried from the San Andres Presbyterian Church. Dozens of Reeve’s colleagues lined the street outside.
They say her biggest worry after getting sick was leaving her children.
Absolutely, first and foremost, her children are growing up now without a mother, and its devastating, said EMT Lieutenant Susan Gonzalez. She has family, she has very good support. Weve noticed that they do stand around, and they are there immediately, we were there immediately. We will make sure that it continues.”
Debbie Reeve was 41-years-old, and a paramedic for 17 years. Two years ago she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure.
Her doctor says Reeve’s cancer was caused by her work at the World Trade Center site after September 11, 2001. She is the third paramedic to die in the last 12 months from an illness linked to the site.
What’s scary about that is that we all spent time down there, said Gonzalez. After Felix passed away, and now Debbie, and numerous others, we’re all pretty frightened as to who’s next.”
Debbie Reeve met her husband Dave at the Emergency Service Academy. They were married for 14 years.
When you come out of the academy, theres only about out of a class of 20-something – there are only about six of us left on the street. The job’s hard on you,” said EMT Kerry Aalbue.
“She was one of the kindest medics Ive ever worked with, added paramedic Allison Fry. I was proud to be mentored by Debbie. She and one of the other members that passed away recently were mentors to me, and I am proud to follow in her shoes.”
Reeve’s family was originally denied worker compensation benefits. Since then a law was passed and Reeve is expected to be the first WTC site worker to be awarded a three-fourths disability pension, which will now go to her family.
– Kristen Shaughnessy