Cat urine contains ammonia. This usually breaks down to nitrogen and hydrogen. Both of which are harmless to humans. Though I'm guessing that with excess hydrogen around, it led to a favourable condition for hydrogen sulphide to form.
Cat feaces on the other hand release many gases, one of them being hydrogen sulphide when decomposition occurs. It is basically the rotten egg gas smell. This is a nerve gas.
Before I explain how hydrogen sulphide works as a nerve gas, I will point out and stress that in a situation where there is ventilation and frequent poop scooping and cleaning, there is negligible risk in hydrogen sulphide poisoning.
How this gas works is that when you are able to smell it, it's ok. Bear with the smell, take care not to breathe it in. Obviously this team of rescue didn't take any precautions.
By the time you reach the point of not being able to smell it, you need to get yourself and others out of the area immediately
. Your body has reached saturation level and any further exposure will lead to side affects. I can only say that this woman is lucky that it was short-term amnesia and not something more serious.
I only know of what it does to humans. I still haven't worked out why or read why it doesn't affect cats. It's the second thread today that I've seen this type of story. I'm going to look into this a little more.