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9/11 survivors remember the first responders who saved their lives

9/11 survivors thank first responders
9/11 survivors thank first responders who saved their lives 02:08

Nearly 18 years after the 9/11 attacks, the Senate finally voted to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for the next 73 years. The bill effectively provides financial support for first responders and others who became ill after the attacks. The president is expected to sign the bill Friday.

Three survivors, John McLaughlin, Wendy Lanski and Michael Wright, spoke with CBS News about how 9/11 first responders changed their lives forever.

"My friend Abe Zelmanowitz was on the 27th floor of Tower one, just two floors below me, and he could have escaped, but he chose to stay because his friend was a quadriplegic," Lanski said. "Captain Billy Burke of the FDNY did reach both Abe and Ed, when the North Tower collapsed."

McLaughlin said the force of the debris forced itself down into "our lungs and into our sinuses."
"We heard the rumbling of the South Tower collapsing. I was lucky enough to be next to a first responder, FDNY. I can credit him for the fact that I am alive now," Wright said.
McLaughlin also credits first responders for saving his life.
"The last bits of rubble were cleared and they were able to pull me out with nylon straps," he said.
It remains an emotional memory, as all three survivors remember the selfless heroism of the 9/11 first responders.
"The only thing that gives me solace is that they did not die alone," Lanski said. "That FDNY was with them, and I have to think that it helped them and it gave them peace."

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