Tales from the Los Angeles Subway: Emergency Response

Today I got to the Hollywood/Vine stop just in time to see some guy collapse and start bleeding. I didn’t actually see him collapse. One second he was on the bench, looking pretty out of it. I turned around. THUMP!  And he was on the ground bleeding, not a lot but if you just hit your head no amount of blood can be good. Another woman also was there. We decided he needed help.

We couldn’t find a call box on the platform, but found one upstairs. The dispatcher asked me what end of the platform the guy was on and what he looked like. I couldn’t remember what he was wearing besides jeans and that he was a caucasian (why didn’t I just say ‘white’?), maybe around 6 feet tall and in his early twenties. I had no idea how to properly describe where on the platform he was. She said she would find him.

When we got back downstairs the guy had propped himself up against the bench but his head was still hanging in a stupor. As another train came, the woman who had helped asked me if I would stay with him, she didn’t think two people were needed. I said I would.

I’m glad I did.

As I sat there I noticed there were two call boxes on the platform. There are red signs marking them, but even then they’re a little hard to spot. They’re located on the side of the fire hose emergency things. There’s a button and a speaker box. Around two trains in either direction went by before I decided to give another call.

I think I spoke to the same dispatcher and was able to better describe the location. I’d say in less then ten minutes there was a Metro employee checking out the poor guy immediately followed by four medics. They asked me for details then I got on my train.

I was kind of disturbed by two things. One, the response time for the first call: Did they think a report of a man unconscious and bleeding wasn’t worth somebody at least making a sweep of the station? And two, the overall lack of concern from others: a small handful of people did show some concern ranging from staring for a bit to asking what was the matter. A couple tourist looking kids laughed at the guy. To be honest, if someone else didn’t also notice him the same time I did I might have not done anything. And my first impulse is not to call for help because maybe it’d be more of a favor to not get the police involved. But he hit his head and was bleeding.

A man with a big bag of collected bottles seemed the most concerned, asking me if the guy had  a seizure. I didn’t see one. He then tried to jostle him awake by shaking his shoulder. The unconscious guy remained unconscious. I told the bottle guy I had called someone. “He’ll be fine,” he said as he went about his day. A couple of other people seemed genuinely ready to do something. One other woman asked me if I was going to stay with him until help came. “I’ve waited this long,” I said. She told me I was being very nice then got on her train.

Help came around thirty minutes after I made my initial call (around ten minutes after the second call). So, if something similar happens to you on a L.A. Metro platform, I’d say call every ten minutes before someone comes. And if you see someone passed out, they may have hit their head. It doesn’t hurt to call for help, there are call boxes on every platform (follow the red signs with white lettering). And I didn’t see any police arrive, if you’re worried about that.

I remember a few months ago I was getting out of a subway station downtown and a guy collapsed. I just went about my day. I thought he was just drunk and could handle the fall. Around thirty minutes later when I was at the station again,  a couple ambulances had arrived. I guess he couldn’t handle the fall and I could have called for help.

Tales from the Los Angeles Subway

Person: Does this train go to MacArthur Park?
Me: No.
Person: Does this train go to MacArthur Park?
Me: No.
Person: OK.
Person boards train.
Person: Does this train go to MacArthur Park?
Me: No.
Person: Aw, man!

Play-A-Day: Subway

This a sketch I wrote a few years ago for a sketch writing class with Ali Farahnakian at The Peoples Improv Theater in NYC. Some of the references are a little dated…

frederick

SUBWAY
by Jeremiah Murphy

(OPEN ON: A COUPLE PUSHES A STROLLER IN A SUBWAY STATION AND HAPPENS UPON A MURAL OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS)

MOM
Look, Sarah, it’s Frederick Douglass. Oh, what a pretty painting.

DAD
Come on Sandy, enough. Babies don’t like Frederick Douglass.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
The devil you say!

MOM AND DAD
Frederick Douglass!

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
That’s right and what you said really hurts my feelings.

DAD
I’m sorry, Frederick Douglass, but Sarah is barely a year old. She likes to be spoon-fed bananas. History, Political Science… It’s not her bag.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Do you even know who I am?

DAD
You’re a famous black man.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
And?

DAD
You escaped slavery, did the underground railroad thing, and invented peanut butter.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Invented peanut butter? You have me mistaken with George Washington Carver. Ma’am, your husband is a nincompoop.

MOM
I’m still trying to figure out why you’re alive. You died of old age on February 20, 1895 in your home of Anacostia Heights, a suburb of Washington D.C.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Actually, it was heart failure, my dear. It’s nice to see that someone in this subway station has gotten a fourth grade education. But to answer your question, my spirit dwells wherever my likeness is painted. I appear from time to time, admiring babies. And in turn, babies admire me, Frederick Douglass.

MOM
Oh, honey. What a special moment between our family and Frederick Douglass.

DAD
Come on, enough of the “Frederick Douglass thing.” We gotta go. Excuse us, Frederick Douglass, we’re taking Sarah to see the Museum of Natural History.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
But babies don’t like science.

NIKOLAI TESLA
The devil you say!

FREDERICK AND MOM
Nikolai Tesla!

DAD
Who?

NIKOLAI TESLA
That’s right and what you said about science really hurts my feelings.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
I’m sorry, Mr Tesla, but Sarah is barely a year old. She likes starring at pretty murals with my face painted on them. Polyphase alternating current electricity, bladeless turbines… It’s just not her bag.

NIKOLAI TESLA
Do you even know who I am?

DAD
Eugene Levy?

NIKOLAI TESLA
SCTV’s Earl Camembert? No, I am Nikolai Tesla. I am responsible for the television you watch those SCTV reruns on at 2:30 in the morning.

MOM
And I hope you won’t be bad-mouthing Thomas Edison in front of my baby.

NIKOLAI TESLA
Ma’am, you know me too well.

MOM
OK, Frederick inhabits the paintings of his likeness. What are you doing here, Nikolai Tesla?

NIKOLAI TESLA
I am in love with Helen Pitts, Frederick Douglass’s second wife.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
I don’t blame you. Sadly, she is in Heaven while I stand by the paintings.

NIKOLAI TESLA
She never visits?

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Not as often as I would like.

NIKOLAI TESLA
Pity. Such a sexy woman. I’ll tell you one thing: I wish I married my secretary. What am I doing here? Babies don’t like chit-chat.

JAI RODRIGUEZ
The Devil you say!

FREDERICK, NIKOLAI, AND MOM
The “Queer Eye” guy who gives culture advice!

JAI RODRIGUEZ
I’m Jai Rodriguez from the Bravo and NBC TV program “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” And what you said about chit-chat really hurt my feelings. Newborns have a special need for chit-chat that when ignored—

DAD
Where’s Carson?

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Seriously.

NIKOLAI TESLA
Carson can be such a bitch, I love him. He brings out people’s natural fashion.

JAI RODRIGUEZ
Do you even know who I am?

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
While the show is entertaining and educational, you are the weakest link. All you do is tell guys to hold their girlfriend’s hand and look into their eyes.

NIKOLAI TESLA
Totally. You shoot the bull while the home-improvement one runs his ass off knocking down walls and installing formica counter tops.

THOM FILICIA
The Devil you say!

ALL
Another ‘Queer Eye” guy!

THOM FILICIA
I’m Thom Filicia, the interior design guy on “Queer Eye.” Formica counter tops? Puh-leeze. You have me confused with Gene Roddenberry.

NIKOLAI TESLA
But he’s not an interior designer.

THOM FILICIA
Exactly.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
I didn’t know this show was still on anymore.

DAD
I think it’s still on Bravo. Honey, let’s get out of here! The African Americans, The Gays, Nikolai Tesla… I don’t want to offend anybody else!

HENRY FORD
Leave that to me! I supported Adolph Hitler.

ALL
Henry Ford!

(BLACKOUT)

Hulk Vent!