Monday, December 17, 2012

A person dying isn't an inconvenience

 We regret the inconvenience, but a pedestrian incident isn’t covered under the Service Guarantee: 

- Twitter

What's the price of a life?

This morning's tragic situation on the Barrie line, in Newmarket, calls for a bit more compassion, especially at this time of year, not a refund.

I received a call (my phone number's on the site for a reason) from a woman who was a passenger on the train that hit an elderly man as it sped through the level rail crossing at Mulock Drive this morning. The man was clipped by the train. He was thrown like a rag doll onto the road, his groceries scattered and his body contorted. Gravely injured, he reached upwards to the Heavens as blood poured from his wounds.

Passengers on the train were horrified by what they had just witnessed. Trapped on the train, no one was allowed off to help. No announcement was made asking if medical personnel were on-board. No one from the crew approached the scene offering a blanket or first aid supplies.

Instead, the driver of a car waiting at the boom gate barrier arm scrambled from his driver's seat and rushed to the man's aid. Cradling his head, he comforted the man and tried to wrap his coat around the man's body. The injured man clung to this Good Samaritan as he struggled to breathe.

An ambulance came but in the wrong direction. The train was blocking access to the part of the road where this tragedy was unfolding - precious minutes being wasted.

On the train, passengers were in shock. The CSA, who I'm told, appeared to be new and ill-equipped with how to deal with the situation unfolding during her shift. She told passengers the man was dead. She told passengers that they had to wait for the coroner to come even though passengers could see the man was moving. She told passengers they had to wait for a clean-up crew.

I was told it all seemed incredibly insensitive.

Passengers closest to the scene weren't asked to move to other coaches so they could avoid being subjected to the helplessness they were feeling as they watched the man struggle to stay alive. Anger over watching other drivers making three-point turns to leave the scene wasn't helping quell the unease. Those who wanted to get off the train to help could not and the lone driver was left by himself to deal.

It was too much sobbed the voice on the line. I could only mutter, "Oh my God" as I didn't know how to react, but I know that I could very well face this same situation. We're all ill-equipped when it happens to us.

Grief counselors were dispatched. They moved among passengers asking them, "How they feel right now?". The crew on-board when the man was hit had been relieved of their duties and replaced by another team. Passengers were surveyed about how they wanted to continue their journey - take a bus or stay on the train.

Many chose to go home, struggling with how to deal with having watched someone fight to live, and some chose to head to Twitter demanding refunds.

Passengers on the train think the man tripped. No one believes it was suicide. Or maybe this man tempted fate? According to CP24, he's in the hospital in critical condition - medical jargon for "clinging to life".

GO isn't issuing refunds for this incident because it's not covered under the Service Guarantee. If I had been on that train, that would have been the least of my concern.

I'm sorry people had to endure such a horrific event and I'm sorry people missed work or were late for work, but there are things in life GO just can't plan for. Based on what I was told, it appears GO could do a better job on how they deal with these situations as they unfold and the aftermath.

Don't make it about money, time or clean-up crews. Don't engage or divulge gory details. Instead, help passengers deal with the situation by inviting them to move to other coaches. Simply state that they are bound by law to wait for an investigation to happen and conclude before resuming service. A person dying isn't an inconvenience.

We should all understand that.

Click here for a follow-up email to read the eyewitness account of this incident