‘I have a panic attack every time I hear a fire engine’: Grenfell survivor reveals battle with PTSD

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‘I have a panic attack every time I hear a fire engine’: Grenfell survivor reveals she still has PTSD

  • Emma O’Connor lived on the 20th floor of the tower with her partner Luke
  • Five years later, she still lives with PTSD – triggered by elevators and fire trucks
  • Emma and Luke escaped by ignoring instructions and taking the elevator
  • Visit Metro.co.uk 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 opposite, they knew they had to get out.

Living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower, when the couple opened the door to their flat at 1am, they could see smoke rising from the air vents.

Describing their escape to Metro.co.uk, Emma says: “I have arthritis and knew there was no way I could get down 20 flights of stairs so we ignored the advice of security and went straight to the elevator that was still working.

“I was afraid we were trapped, but there was no other escape route in place for me. I didn’t have time to worry, we were so focused on our exit.

She credits this functional elevator with saving her life.

When Emma O’Connor saw her building, Grenfell Tower, on fire, reflecting in the windows of the school opposite, she knew she had to get out

It wasn’t until Emma, ​​33, came out and saw the scale of the fire that she realized what a deadly situation she had found herself in.

“I was in shock and started crying. I have since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I still can’t bear the thought of getting in elevators and I have panic attacks every time I hear fire engines.”

She has now revealed how traumatized she remained after the fire and said she had panic attacks when she heard fire engines.

She has now revealed how traumatized she remained after the fire and said she had panic attacks when she heard fire engines.

Emma remembers seeing things that night and the following days that she will never forget.

“Our neighbors were screaming for help and throwing themselves out of the tower, just to try to escape.

“I saw corpses stored in the alleys of the estate and the inhabitants who lived there had to live with that.”

Emma and Luke had lived in the tower for five years before the fire, which killed 72 people.

Immediately afterwards, however, the couple wanted to leave the neighborhood.

“We just wanted to get away from the community because we had a hard time looking at the burnt-out Grenfell Tower.

“But now we want to come back because local family and friends are a big part of our support network and post-incident recovery.”

Emma and Luke had lived in the tower for five years before the fire, which killed 72 people (pictured)

Emma and Luke had lived in the tower for five years before the fire, which killed 72 people (pictured)

This is particularly important for Emma after her private therapy – organized by her lawyers – ended this month.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do without them. My therapist says I should be fine now, but I’m not.

Emma predicts that with the end of the final phase of the investigation, there will be a mental health fallout for the bereaved and the survivors of the fire.

“You can assume 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.”

Visit Metro.co.uk to read the full version of this article

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