hearts and minds

August 6, 2006

Pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps

Filed under: Class warfare,police and the people — Hearts & Minds @ 6:52 pm

It’s likely you and I never use “rapid transit” to get around. Or experience that strange feeling of being lonely while in a crowd of people we don’t know, who are doing the very same thing that we are. And we aren’t particularly familiar with the sights and sounds of a subway. Not using it daily, it’s likely that when we hear the word “subway”, we shudder and associate it with images of thugs and gang tags and warnings of terrorists and close proximity to people we haven’t even met and think we’d rather not have to meet. All this came to mind when I ran across this very recent back pages news item.

Just after the New Year began, a woman fell off the edge of a crowded subway platform, was struck on the head, and lay injured on the tracks. A roaring train hurtled through the tunnel towards the station. Avoiding injury and the third rail, a young stranger in the crowd jumped off the platform onto the tracks, and struggled to move her limp body up to the platform. The noise of the train grew deafening, and voices shouted warnings. Another stranger jumped down! With assistance from those on the platform, the two together got the unconscious woman off the tracks and out of harms way. But the train kept on coming. Fortunately, both good Samaritans were able to get themselves out of its path and to safety on the platform before the train rushed through.

There was a cop in the station, alert to the disturbance, who came immediately to the scene. The woman was not breathing. Everybody knows that when oxygen doesn’t get to a person’s lungs, every second is critical. We also know that CPR is often futile, and fails to bring a person back to life more often than it works. Performing CPR without all the technical apparatus carried by Rescue Squads and in ER’s presents a risk of infection. Some of these infections can be both incurable and fatal. The cop on the platform didn’t have all that specialized equipment hanging on his belt.

What did he do? He immediately started CPR. The woman began breathing on her own after just a few quick breathes of mouth-to-mouth.

Afterwards, the cop commented, “It looks like this is gonna be a good year.”

Amen. So be it.

January 19, 2006


  1. thanks for sharing your essay

    Comment by Neil — February 16, 2007 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  2. your small essay is well written, and i was able to open it. I did have a funny feeling about what “you and I ” (or words to that effect) was being referred to – i do use mass transit on an almost daily basis, interact with strangers, and spent the formative years of my life enduring long subway commutes. New York is not a foreign country to everyone.

    Comment by Beth — February 16, 2007 @ 9:12 pm | Reply


    I write for a small town Wisconsin newspaper. The population of the entire county is 86,000. The nearest subway is in Chicago. “You” is addressed in that essay to a resident of southern Ozaukee County. But your point is well taken. I have used and depended on subways, and so have some readers.

    Comment by Clyde — February 16, 2007 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

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