A New York City transit employee says he was only thinking about getting medical aid for a trainee who had collapsed and begun spitting up blood, when he apparently broke a rule while doing so.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority viewed the actions he took to help the trainee as dangerous and suspended the subway motorman without pay, the New York Post reported.
According to the Post, 59-year-old Quincy Calhoun was training a motorman on the No. 5 train in April when the student suddenly collapsed after feeling chest pain. Before he collapsed, the trainee had gone through a red-stop signal, which caused the train’s emergency brakes to activate.
Calhoun immediately tried to reach out to the MTA’s Rail Communication Center but could not get through because he and the trainee were in a dead zone, the Post reported. That was when the veteran MTA worker, who has been with the agency since 1989, said he made the only decision he thought he could make.
“I was only trying to do the right thing by that gentleman who was laying in that cab,” Calhoun told the Post. “That’s what I was thinking about. All I know is when you grab your chest and slump to the floor, it isn’t a good sign.”
And so Calhoun went onto the tracks to disable the red-light-signal mechanism so that the train would continue on, the Post reported.
“All I was thinking about was getting this guy medical help,” Calhoun recalled.
He pulled into the next station going less than 10 mph, and the trainee was rushed to Jacobi Hospital shortly thereafter.
However, the MTA slammed the act of desperation as unsafe and pulled Calhoun from passenger service, the Post reports. On Monday, the site notes, Calhoun was suspended without pay.
“Even [when] all this stuff started coming down at me, I didn’t feel bad because I knew I had done the right thing,” he said.
Kevin Harrington, vice president of rail traffic operations for the Transport Workers Union Local 100, told the Post that Calhoun’s was the “most outrageous case in my union career,” calling the MTA’s response “an all-time low.”
“The Transit Authority is being absolutely unreasonable, and it shows their contempt for human life, particularly their employees,” Harrington added, according to the Post.
However, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz insisted that Calhoun did not employ proper protocol to execute the maneuver used to get the train moving.
Read more at the New York Post.