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April 11, 2007
Accident on the Underground
So I was on my way home from Euston station a couple of hours ago and I decided that, instead of going to Vauxhall on the Victoria line, I'd head over to Waterloo on the Northern line to catch my homebound train.
I arrived at Waterloo station, hitting Rush hour and eager to get home. Went on the escalators as usual and, about half-way up a man a few steps in front of me suddenly falls backwards and cracks his head on the stairs. The person immediately in front of me moves to avoid the falling man and the poor guy hits the back of his head, remains limp and starts to slowly slide down the stairs.
Quickly recovering from the shock of seeing someone keel over, I drop my bag and grab his shoulder and arm to stop him from sliding any more, losing my glasses in the process. His blood has dribbled out into the escalator grooves and I'm stupidly asking him if he's alright whilst concentrating on holding him up without moving him (was worried that he might have hurt his back/neck). An elder passenger from behind me comes up to help me with the man and starts to look him over. A woman from behind is telling people to press the emergency stop button and both the man and I shout "no". Last thing to do is have an abrupt stop followed by having to lift someone upstairs. So we wait for the elevator to near the top and the man, myself and someone ahead of us get ready to pick up the fallen commuter and carefully move him somewhere safe. We manage to do that, somewhat awkwardly, while another commuter runs to the underground staff.
Meanwhile, we try to prop the man up, and avoid tilting his head and such. I'm behind him kneeling, while the elder man is supporting his head and checking for his pulse. A female member of staff comes jogging up asks us what's happened then radios for First Aid, an ambulance, a wheelchair and for the escalators to stop.
The as-yet-unidentified man starts to regain consciousness and is clearly quite confused (as you might be if you've smacked your head on those bloody stairs) and spends the next couple of minutes drifting in and out of consciousness while answering the questions the female member of staff is asking him in order to keep him conscious/discover any other problems.
Her supervisor arrives with a first-aid box and is preparing some sort of bandage to help with the wound when he discovers that there aren't any latex gloves in the kit. He says "Where the hell are the latex gloves? I'm not touching that without the latex gloves". Which is understandable. You don't know if he's got hepatitis or HIV or some such. But it's rather silly to have an unprepared first aid kit.
We've managed to keep him mostly conscious by now. There was a very worrying bit when it seemed almost as though he'd died and the female staff member was on the verge of tears. It turns out his name was David and he was on his way home from University College Hospital after having stitches removed from his chin. He told us he had epilepsy, so we figured that he'd had a seizure, which caused him to fall backwards.
When the first aid staff finally began to arrive, I figured it'd be better to leave rather than stay and be useless/get in the way. But I hope he's OK! (He wasn't travelling with anyone).
The other passengers were commendable, with one even staying and looking after his luggage, making sure that transport officials took note of it and kept it safe. There was, however, one particular passenger who broke the tape on the escalator (they didn't shut it off, just put security tape on it) coming up the stairs and arguing with a transport official. Nice patience there mate.
I still have the poor guy's blood on my shoes. Not sure what to do with those now, but here's hoping he's ok! And kudos to my fellow passengers! For all the crap you have to endure on the underground and the assaults you hear about, it's nice to encounter people willing to take at least a few minutes out of their lives to care for a fellow human who's in trouble.