‘I have a panic attack every time I hear a fire truck’: Grenfell survivor reveals she still suffers from PTSD
- Emma O’Connor lived on the 20th floor of the tower with her partner Luke
- Five years later, he is still living with post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by elevators and fire trucks.
- Emma and Luke escaped by ignoring instructions and taking the elevator.
- Visit Metro.es to read the full version of this article
When Emma O’Connor and her partner Luke saw their building on fire, reflected in the windows of the school across the street, they knew they had to get out.
Living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower, when the couple opened their apartment door at 1am, they could see smoke coming out of the vents.
Describing his escape to Metro.esSays Emma: ‘I have arthritis and knew there was no way I was going to get down 20 flights of stairs, so we ignored the safety advice and went straight to the only lift that was still working.
“I was worried that we would be trapped, but there was no other escape route for me. I didn’t have time to worry, we were so focused on getting out.
She credits that working elevator with saving her life.
When Emma O’Connor saw her building, Grenfell Tower, on fire, reflected in the windows of the school across the street, she knew she had to get out.
It was only when Emma, 33, stepped outside and saw the scale of the fire that she realized the deadly situation she had been in.
“I went into shock and started crying. I have since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
‘I still can’t bear the thought of riding elevators and I have panic attacks every time I hear fire engines.’
Now she has revealed how she is still traumatized after the fire and said she has panic attacks when she hears fire trucks.
Emma remembers seeing things that night and in the days that followed that she will never forget.
“Our neighbors were screaming for help and throwing themselves off the tower, just to try to escape.
“I saw corpses stored in the halls of the estate and the residents who remained living there had to live with it.”
Emma and Luke had been living in the tower for five years before the fire, which killed 72 people.
Immediately after, however, the couple wanted to leave the neighborhood.
“We just wanted to get away from the community because it was hard for us to see Grenfell Tower, all burned down.
“But now we want to go back as local family and friends are a big part of our support and recovery network from the incident.”
Emma and Luke had been living in the tower for five years before the fire, which killed 72 (pictured)
This is especially important to Emma after her private therapy, arranged through her lawyers, ends this month.
I don’t know how I’ll manage without them. My therapist says I should be fine by now, but I’m not.’
Emma predicts that since the final phase of the investigation has recently ended, there will be mental health consequences for the mourners and survivors of the fire.
“One might assume that enough time has passed, but there is no time limit on the recovery period for people who suffered as a result of the Grenfell fire.”
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