AMT talks about carbon monoxide scare at Dunkin' Donuts

Nassau County police ambulance technician Joseph went into a Carle Place Dunkin’ Donuts on May 30, 2014, and got a warning on his personal carbon monoxide detector. He discovered evidence of leaking gas and evacuated the lone employee. At a news conference Monday, June 2, 2014, he said, “It’s a good feeling to know I saved someone’s life.” (Credit: James Staubitser)

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When Nassau police ambulance medical technician Joseph Biundo walked into a Carle Place Dunkin' Donuts for a cup of coffee, he wasn't expecting to save a life last week.

But Biundo successfully evacuated the doughnut shop last Friday before anyone was injured after his personal carbon monoxide detector alarm sounded, alerting him to dangerous levels of the deadly, odorless gas.

"It's a good feeling to know I saved someone's life," Biundo said Monday at a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola.

Biundo, who has worked as an AMT for 15 years and a volunteer firefighter with the Glenwood Fire Department for 28 years, said he was prompted to buy on his own the $200 detector to wear on duty after the Feb. 22 carbon monoxide poisoning at a Legal Sea Foods restaurant in Huntington Station, which killed the general manager and sickened dozens.

Biundo, who is assigned to the Sixth Precinct, was filling in last Friday at the Third Precinct on a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift and stopped at the shop at 202 Glen Cove Rd. for a quick coffee break just before 4 a.m.

He had stood at the counter for a few minutes, when his device started to beep and flash a red light, indicating the carbon monoxide levels had hit 35 parts per million -- a potentially deadly level.

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Biundo said he asked the lone worker in the store if he felt dizzy or had a headache, but the worker said he was fine. No customers were inside the store. Biundo asked to go in the back near the ovens, and his monitor shot up to 80 parts per million.

"It shocked me at first," Biundo said. "I thought maybe it was faulty . . . If he was in that backroom by himself, he could have suffered medical issues."

Biundo evacuated the store and called dispatch, who summoned the Carle Place Fire Department. Firefighters ventilated the store and determined the high levels of carbon monoxide were due to faulty oven pipe, police said.

A Carle Place fire official did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday.

In April, the Nassau Legislature passed a bill requiring carbon monoxide alarms in all Nassau public and commercial buildings, new and existing structures, by Jan. 1, 2015.

Only the new buildings and those seeking new permits for major renovations have to install hard-wired carbon monoxide detection systems that connect to the county's fire alarm network. Existing locations, like the Dunkin' Donuts, will only be required to install plug-in or battery-operated detectors.A man who answered the phone at the Dunkin' Donuts Monday, said he could not comment on the incident but said "everything is good" now.

Asked whether the department is considering providing the devices to all its AMTs, Det. Vincent Garcia, a police spokesman, said it's "now something I'm sure they're going to look into."

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