By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
February 26, 2020
Four deli workers sickened by lethal carbon monoxide gas are alive today after a heroic rescue by Fire Dept. Paramedics in Local 2507.
Two Paramedics responded to an early morning call Dec, 10 about an unconscious man at Broome Street bodega.
“When we reached the store, workers said they felt dizzy and nauseous,” said Paramedic Phillip Jugenheimer. A fourth man lay unconscious in the cramped basement of the Lower East shop.
“Our carbon monoxide detectors were beeping like crazy,” Jugenheimer said. “I’m getting a 50 reading, my partner gets 80. Inside the store read 120 parts per million (PPM) so we evacuated the customers and cooks making breakfast. Everybody OUT!”
FDNY Paramedics wear portable carbon monoxide detectors on their uniforms. As the two Local 2507 members approached the basement, the meter clocked a lethal 600 PPM level. The air was saturated with the deadly odorless gas.
“The CO2 monitor is a vital piece of equipment we wear,” Jugenheimer said. “Without situation awareness, you can become a victim as well.”
The Paramedics called for backup and other special units and EMS Officers responded to the life-threatening emergency.
Minutes count so wearing protective safety equipment and breathing apparatuses, the emergency responders descended the basement stairs where Jugenheimer said, “CO2 gas was 1300 PPM, a fatal level.”
“At those levels, 50 percent of people exposed to carbon monoxide die within 30 minutes,” first responder Paramedic Niall O’Shaughnessy told the Daily News. “If our masks came off, we’d be in dire straits. We would have been in trouble.”
“They found the fourth victim passed out and foaming at the mouth on the basement floor,” said Jugenheimer. “The area was too cramped for a stretcher so the Paramedics carried the unconscious man out by his arms and legs. We rushed him to a hyperbaric chamber. The others went to nearby hospitals.”
FDNY Lt. Bruce Hydock of EMS Station 4, a Uniformed EMS Officers Local 3621 member, said the operation succeeded due to the training EMS workers receive.
Paramedics O’Shaughnessy, Joshua Rodriguez, Carlson and Jugenheimer said their situation awareness and training saved the deli workers and themselves that morning.
“We really don’t think of ourselves as heroes,” Jugenheimer said, “It’s all in a day’s work and before breakfast at that. We’re glad we got everyone out. We worked as a team and did our jobs.”
“The quick thinking and actions of these men prevented serious injuries and death,” said Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay. “Every day FDNY Paramedics risk their lives so others may live. We’re extremely proud of our men and women.”