Carbon Monoxide Evacuation

An article I put together from a make believe press conference when I attended SUNY Purchase.

Fifty people evacuated their apartment building early yesterday morning, many of them barefoot and in their pajamas. Some of them were carried out, dangling over the shoulders of firefighters. Residents soon learned that carbon monoxide was detected throughout their building.

Tanya Jones, 27, was one of the 50 who lived in the apartment building on East 12th Street in the East Village. She lived on the fourth floor and was woken up around 5:15 am to the sounds of screaming and men’s voices. She went into the hallway to investigate, where she passed out in her neighbor’s doorway.

“I woke up at about 4:00 in the morning with a splitting headache,” Jones says. “I thought it was just the stress of my job and I went back to sleep. Then the next thing I knew, I heard crying and screams in the hallway, and I thought ‘Just another day in New York City,’” she says. “Then I heard screams and men’s voices. That’s when I realized something was wrong. I  looked at my alarm clock and I realized that I slept through my alarm.” She takes a breath. “I thought to myself, ‘I need to investigate.’ I got out of bed, my knees buckled beneath me and I hit the ground.”

“I walked towards the window and opened it for fresh air. It was like an instinct,” she says. “I think I fell two or three times on my walk to the window. I was in such a fog. I had no idea why that was happening to me.” Jones, aching and confused, still managed to crawl her way over to one of the three windows in her kitchen, and pushed one of them open.

Jones lived alone in a one-bedroom studio apartment. She had gotten multiple bruises on her knees from falling numerous times on her hardwood floor.

She mentions that when she opened her thick coated brown door, her two female neighbors were “crying hysterical” and a firefighter, James Oldham, was standing near them. One of the women’s cats was dying.

“That’s when I went unconscious and blacked out,” she says. “When I came to, I was being carried down the stairs by a firefighter. He put me into the back of an ambulance, where I sat with some oxygen, breathing, for quite some time.”

Oldham flung Jones, in her pink polka-dot pajamas, bare feet, and disheveled hair, over his shoulder and carried her down the magnolia colored staircase and out into the chilly December air to the ambulance.

The firefighters then received a positive testing for carbon monoxide all throughout the building.

Joseph Mahoney, spokesperson for the New York City Fire Department, says that it is safe for the residents to return to the building. Even though it is not a law, he strongly advises that they all invest in a carbon monoxide detector.

“The Carbon monoxide was concentrated at the top and the bottom of the building. It was the first day of winter, and it was backing up into the building because of blocked exhaust from the heater,” he says.

“I will certainly get a carbon monoxide detector,” Jones says as she nods her head. “I learned from the medical center that if I was in the building for another 20 minutes, I might have died,” she says. “I’m very grateful to the fire department for rescuing me and the other people living in the building.” She shakes her head. “It kind of blows my mind. Of all the dangers in New York City, carbon monoxide is not on my list of things to worry about,” she says. She smiles. “It was a strange sensation. There were photographers taking pictures of us. As a journalist, it was weird to be on the other side of the story.”

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