Thousands have already been treated for their injuries and health problems. According to the 2008 Annual Report on 9/11 Health, released this month by the World Trade Center Medical Working Group of New York City, doctors screened more than 40,000 rescue and recovery workers nationally. Of these, about 10,500 received federally funded treatment for physical health conditions and 5,500 received treatment for mental health conditions.
But even those who have received some level of medical treatment for their conditions still bear the scars. Riches was forced to leave the fire department in 2007 due to the injuries to his lungs.
While says he he has recovered somewhat, Riches must take a pill daily to compensate for his failed thyroid, which he also believes occurred as a result of 9/11. He must also sleep with an inhaler at his bedside, as he still occasionally wakes up unable to breathe.
"I used to bike and run and everything else," Riches says. "Now, if I walk a bit, I get very winded. Still, I thank God I'm still alive."
And he says that he will continue to press forward for the compensation he feels he deserves -- regardless of the most recent findings in the Zadroga case.
"I was down there. I don't know where these people who are saying all these things were," Riches says. "The way it looks to me, they're just trying to get out of the accountability for what happened."