An ER nurse has been reunited with the New York City fireman who saved her from a fire that was consuming a building 37 years ago.
Deirdre Tayler, who works as a nurse in Virginia is presently working in New York City to help battle the covid pandemic and shortage of workers. On Monday, she was reunited with Eugene Pugliese, a retired FDNY fireman.
“The name of the firefighter that rescued me was always with me. When I grew up, I became an ER nurse. There is definitely a relationship with ER nurses and first responders. They put their lives on the line and they really are heroes,” said Taylor. “I had always wanted to track down the firefighter who saved me, so I could say thank you. I didn’t know if I had waited too long, but when the COVID-19 crisis started developing, I decided to come to New York City and help.”
Taylor, who’s 40 years old, made a point to pack a belonging that she held dear for over three decades – a front page newspaper article.
It was an article archiving Taylor’s rescue from the building in flames in an New York City apartment by a firefighter back in 1983. She was just four years of age at that point. The image on the front page article shows a youthful Taylor with the one who rescued her, Eugene Pugliese.
“I brought the copy of the Daily News with me and thought I would be able to track him down while I was here, and I did,” Taylor said.
During one of her shifts at work, Taylor told a firefighter her story. He called the current captain of FDNY Ladder 20 in Manhattan, who knew precisely who Taylor was searching for.
Taylor called Pugliese right after her shift ended and was very elated to hear his voice on the other end.
“I wondered about him on 9/11 and hoped I would get the chance to thank him, and I finally did,” said Taylor.
Pugliese was assigned to Ladder 20 on December 29, 1983 when he was made aware of the fire at 64th Wooster St. in Soho. He saved little 4 year old Deirdre Taylor and her mother from their 6th floor loft.
“I was in the middle of checking out a broken pipe on the street when a gentleman came and alerted me of a fire,” Pugliese said. “I didn’t even have my gear on, just a helmet and an ax. When I arrived, there was a lot of smoke. I went into the apartment and found a woman. She was yelling ‘my baby, my baby!’ I carried her into another room and proceeded into the room that was on fire. I found Deirdre and I was so glad. I crawled in on my belly and didn’t have any equipment, I was lucky to have found her. I gave her two quick breaths and she started crying. She turned out to be a wonderful young woman. When I heard she was here, I was on cloud nine, I cried all day.”
Taylor and Pugliese have spoken twice since reconnecting and desire to meet face to face once it’s safe to do so. The two learned that they have a lot in common, both having service under their belt in the military, and are die-hard fanatics for the Yankees.
“I hope to meet her soon, maybe later this summer,” said Pugliese. “I’d love to meet her two children and go to a Yankees game together.”