RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A first responder who battled flames on Sept. 11 in New York says toxins he inhaled then as a New York Police officer led to his early retirement after joining Richmond Police.
Darin Pappeo moved to Richmond in 2003. He was a police officer until this past June when his health started to take a bad turn.
The local community is working together and helping Pappeo get back on his feet. 8News spoke with Pappeo on Monday.
Behind his smile, Pappeo faces daily health struggles.
“Even just right now,” Pappeo said, “I just don’t have the same energy I’ve had.”
Before serving in Richmond, Pappeo was a former New York City Police officer who responded to the terrorists’ attacks on Sept. 11.
“It was just a devastating thing to take in all at once,” he told 8News.
Pappeo said he only had a safety helmet and toxic mask to protect himself from the toxic air then. Now, he has a list of health problems.
“Fatigue, headaches, stomach pain, just wasn’t feeling like myself so I kept going back and forth to the doctor and the ER,” Pappeo said.
Pappeo’s health concerns are why his family is starting an online fundraising page to help with his medical bills.
“To watch it is heartbreaking,” Lisa Pappeo, Darin’s wife, said. “To know how he was before versus how he is now.”
L. Pappeo said she applied for the World Trade Center Health Program in July.
“It’s been like a horrific waiting game,” she said.
The program provides medical care for first responders who helped after 9/11. It could be months before they get any help.
“The resources with the World Trade Center Health is unfortunate because they have all these men and women who need to be tested who are starting to get sick now,” L. Pappeo said.