EAST MEADOW, Long Island (PIX11) – A Long Island pediatrician is being hailed a hero after he prevented 14 people from potentially being poisoned to death from a carbon monoxide gas leak.
Dr. John Zaso, who doubles as a volunteer firefighter in East Meadow, used his skills from both jobs to diagnose that the family of one of his young patients was actively suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. He ended up helping dispatch his own fire department to the family’s home.
Zaso said he got an urgent call from the mother of a 3-week-old infant patient late Monday night. The mother said her baby was acting sick, and mentioned that a number of the family members in their house recently started feeling sick within the last several hours. Fourteen people, all related, were living in the home.
“First thing I said immediately was ‘open your windows get out of the house and call 911,'” Zaso recalled.
The mother told him that she would call 911 and evacuate their home, but when Zaso grabbed the dispatch radio he uses as a firefighter, he said he never heard the call for help come through. So he called the mother back immediately and sternly.
“I said ‘get out of the house now,’ in some colorful language,” Zaso said. “I then called and had the fire department dispatched to the scene.“
Zaso helped dispatch his friends at the East Meadow Fire Department, along with Nassau County’s ambulance bureau and police. Zaso also went to the scene. He and his team found deadly levels of carbon monoxide inside parts of the family’s home.
“Without any protection, within 30 seconds you’re disoriented and unconscious at that level,” Zaso said regarding how toxic the basement air had become.
Thankfully, because of Zaso’s quick response, no one died. Eleven of the 14 people in the home had to go to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. Had Zaso given his orders to the family over the phone and not followed up, he says the family of 14 likely would have gone to bed and died in their sleep.
“They wouldn’t have woken up in the morning. They would’ve asphyxiated in their sleep,” Zaso said.
The poisoned family is doing much better and is very grateful to him and the other first responders who showed up to help them, according to Zaso.
If there’s one thing to take away from this story, Zaso said it’s to ensure everyone has working CO detectors on every level of their home.