The Irish paramedic, part of the amazing Irish reunion on the tracks of the New York subway last week, has spoken about rescuing the Belfast woman, who miraculously walked away unscathed after three trains ran overhead.
The three Irish – patient, firefighter, and rescue medic – had “a laugh about” the situation while still under the train, but Limerick paramedic Niall O’Shaughnessy admits Mary Downey is lucky to be alive.
The Belfast woman, Mary Downey (22), had been under the influence and listening to music on the platform at the 49th Street station, at about 6am last Sunday (June 29). She stumbled and fell on the tracks, breaking her shoulder. Unable to climb up, due to her injuries, she crawled to the crevice between the platform and the tracks as the N train approached. She lay on the tracks until the third train’s operator spotted her waving for help.
Thankfully help was soon to hand in the shape of New York Police Department officers followed by FDNY rescue medic Niall O’Shaughnessy, from Limerick, and firefighter Sean Cummins from Dublin.
Speaking to John Murray on RTE’s Radio One, O’Shaughnessy explained how the memorable call-out unfolded.
He said, “As soon as I got on the ambulance at 6am we got a call for a ‘man under,’ in other words a person hit by a train and they’re underneath the train.
“For something like this you have a huge response, you have the NYPD and FDNY and their technical teams.”
Once at the scene O’Shaughnessy was prepared for the worst.
He continued, “As soon as I started talking to her to see how she was doing, I started to assess her and saw she had some serious injuries. I was worried she had some internal injuries.”
While assessing the situation he began to speak with FDNY firefighter Cummins.
“I noticed the fire fighter had a bit of an accent because I pick up on these things, and I asked him ‘where are you from?’ and he said ’I’m from Dublin’,” he explained.
“And then while we were talking back and forth Mary said ‘I’m from Ireland, I’m from Belfast!’
“Believe it or not underneath the train we had a laugh about it, including Mary herself”, he said.
Despite the levity derived from their uniquely Irish reunion O’Shaughnessy admitted that Downey is exceedingly lucky to be alive. However, he admitted accidents such as hers are not uncommon.
He told RTE, “Whenever you get a call like that you’re expecting the worst. You rarely get to walk away from it like Mary. Usually these type of calls are fatal.”
O’Shaughnessy said the emergency services get one or two calls a day reporting people falling on to the tracks.
“She probably got caught up in whatever she was doing. Bystanders said she stumbled and fell – it’s not uncommon”
“In the hospital she was still talking a still alert and knew what was going on.
“She’s a very, very lucky girl. Both me and fire fighter Cummins told her to go and play the lotto.”