WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two Long Island ambulance technicians who had just been looking for breakfast Thursday morning were being called heroes hours later.
As TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported Thursday night, West Islip Fire Department emergency medical technicians Patrick Daly and Josh Lebenns were headed to their favorite bagel shop – the Bagel Buzz at 498 Union Blvd. in West Islip — for breakfast and coffee like any other morning.
Instead, they were forced into action.
“All of a sudden, my CO meter started going off to alert me to a possible CO emergency at this location,” Lebenns said.
“NO sooner than two seconds I walk in the door, my CO meter starts going off also,” Daly said.
CO, of course, is the chemical symbol for carbon monoxide. The EMTs both carry carbon monoxide detectors at all times that detect any gas buildup, as CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported.
“CO is a very, it’s toxic gas – it’s colorless, it’s odorless – and unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know they’ve succumbed to CO until it’s too late,” Lebenns said.
It was just such a buildup from a leak in a heating flue that took the life of Steve Nelson, manager of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington, a year ago.
The tragedy prompted Suffolk County lawmakers to pass a bill carrying Nelson’s name and requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all county buildings, and also prompted emergency responders always to carry the detectors.
It was a fortunate circumstance for Bagel Buzz employees and customers on Thursday.
“We had no idea,” said Bagel Buzz manager Ralph Miele. “We didn’t smell anything; had no indication of anything until these two young fellows went back and said, “You need to get people out of here.’”
Inside their ambulance, the EMTs checked out four people complaining of headaches, but all were fine. The store had to be closed as fire marshals traced a small gas leak in a pipe leading to the oven used to bake bagels.
“It could have been a whole lot worse than just a few people having to leave without their breakfast,” Miele said.
Meanwhile, Lebenns and Daly credited their CO detectors.
“You can’t put a price on a life, so we’re very happy we had them,” Daly said.
And their morning breakfast will be a little sweeter now too.
“These two may never pay for breakfast again,” Miele said.
Miele said quick repairs should allow the store to reopen on Friday. The bagel shop will also put in carbon monoxide detectors, which will be required for businesses in Suffolk County effective in 2017.
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