Thursday, January 17, 2013

Where's the Station Manager?

 January 5, 2013. Via @bomble: Catching some zzzzs at #wmata Farragut north station. L street entrance. Garrett:

Hello Mr. Sarles,

I'd like to report a concerning incident that occurred today at the Bethesda Metro station related to station management and maintaining a continuous WMATA presence. On January 15, 2013 after arriving at the Bethesda station by train, shortly before 2 p.m., I witnessed a woman collapse next to a turnstile and briefly lose consciousness. 

Fortunately, there were about eight riders present and many stopped to assist her. One of these riders had some medical experience and busied himself with assessing the now conscious woman with questions and kept her mind off of what was clearly a serious medical emergency.  Another man quickly got on the phone with 911. Others ran up to the street to flag down a policeman. Someone punched the emergency button at the station manager's kiosk.

By about 2:10, four paramedics arrived and took charge of the situation, and by 2:15, the woman was heading off to Suburban Hospital. It was a quick response and couldn't have gone much smoother.

But there was one glaring absence in this whole process. We never saw the station manager on duty or any other WMATA employee. From roughly 1:55 to 2:20, when station manager Bradley returned (from where I do not know), there was no WMATA representative at the escalator exit to the Bethesda station.  Everything went as it should this time, but what if there were not a handful of unhurried passengers to help out? This young woman lost consciousness, was unable to walk, experienced debilitating pain, and was clearly scared. She was six feet from the kiosk where a manager should have been, and had she been alone, who knows how long it would have taken for her to get help.

I am unaware of your policies on lunch breaks or patrolling of stations. I do not know if station manager Bradley was on break or if someone else was supposed to be covering for her. I understand that there are costs to having people on duty at all times throughout the metro system, but medical emergencies happen. You must have staff present.

I reported this issue to a Metro customer service rep by phone and expect to hear back about this. I will happily provide any additional information you may require.

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