NY, NY – Staffers at WNYW/Ch. 5 are upset about a life-threatening problem with the station’s remote trucks that has sent four on-air reporters and a handful of off-air staff to the hospital.
Reporters Lisa Evers, Andrea Day, Nicole Johnson and Ti-Hua Chang all were treated in recent weeks for carbon-monoxide poisoning after working in the station’s remote trucks for long periods of time.
“This is a serious situation,” said an insider who requested anonymity. “There have been repeated incidents.”
For example, sources said Evers became disoriented while on an assignment. After being seen by a doctor, Evers was told that if she had waited longer for treatment, she might have died.
Ch. 5 crew members Sean McKenna, Chris Portente, Jerry Luke and Ralph Franco also have been treated for effects of carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless gas emitted by engines or gas-fired equipment exhausts.
Mild exposure can lead to headaches and flulike symptoms. Severe cases can lead to death.
TV trucks at Ch. 5 and elsewhere rely on gas-fueled generators to power equipment while a truck is parked. The word at Ch. 5 is that the problems started in one truck, which was immediately removed from service for repairs.
After that incident, other trucks checked out with no problems. However, two trucks later developed carbon-monoxide issues, sending more people to the hospital.
New exhaust equipment is being installed on the generators, and new carbon-monoxide detectors are being put in every truck.
Staffers have been advised to seek medical attention if they have any symptoms of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Sources say even the union has gotten involved.
“The safety of our employees is our first priority,” Ch. 5 president and general manager Lew Leone said. “We are working as quickly as possible to resolve this situation.”