By Mark Hallum
Emergency medical technicians Zache Cox and Frantzi Honore were given special honors Saturday for saving the lives of four people in Queens who were suffering from prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, also known as the silent killer.
During the ceremony, at FDNY’s EMS Station 54 in Springfield Gardens, the likes of state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) and Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) recognized the two EMTs with official proclamations.
According to Cox, the episode occurred just days after Thanksgiving when a family, who had been cooking in their single-family home, mistook their carbon monoxide detector for a smoke detector and shut it off after it began beeping.
As time went by, members of the family began feeling sick, and when one resident took seriously ill, they dialed 911.
“We got on scene and we saw this lady outside sitting on the porch — she was saying she felt very sick,” Cox said, explaining that the woman wanted to go to the hospital but had her son and two grandsons inside the home as well. “My partner went upstairs, and his CO meter started going off. … We saw one patient, a little boy, laying on the floor, and the other little boy laying on the bed, and then the son was in the other room. From there, we got everyone out of the house and opened up the windows.”
The four victims were moved to a facility in Manhattan, where they would remain under treatment in a hyperbaric chamber until they recovered.
“The grandmother thought the kids were just sick,” Honore said, explaining that there needs to be better education about the importance of maintaining working detectors, which should be checked every six months. “The meter was going off at first, and they shut it off. They had another one downstairs and they shut it off too. … We said, if there is something going off, it means something is going on. Don’t shut it off.”
With the lack of an adequate amount of carbon monoxide detectors in the city, emergency responders now carry them as part of their everyday gear.
“The tricky thing about carbon monoxide is that you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, it’s odorless. The only way to know is to have a meter,” Station 54 Capt. Steven Warren said.
Comrie gave the two EMTs the New York State Liberty Medal, which requires Senate approval.
Hyndman said that Station 54 plays a prominent role in the community by hosting different events and that her office would do its part to raise awareness to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Young people watch comic books and Marvel hero cartoons,” Richards said, “and in the moments you think of heroes, you think of Batman, you think of Superman, but you never think of people who day in and day out are making sure our communities are safe.”
Richards issued a proclamation for each EMT and a third for the station.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall