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Returning home from a celebration, I took an evening train. As the train was braking for one stop along the way, there was a jerk as if the brakes stopped working for half a second, and we stopped with another jerk. After a minute or so, we still didn't depart, and there was the smell of burnt rubber. I saw people running outside, then looked out -- and saw formless metal in front of the locomotive.

It took me a dozen seconds to realise that it was a car. Caught in the road crossing just before the stopping place. I got off and headed into the opposite direction -- and there I saw a dead man lying on the platform. The first I saw. Later an eyewitness driver told what happened: a car with twqo onboard came to the crossing at speed, broke through the closed barrier, crashed into the concrete roadside barrier on the other side, and before the pasenger could jump out, the train hit them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:09:49 PM EST
That's awful, it must really shake people up to witness something like that. I hope you are ok.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:12:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Must be quite traumatic.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh DoDo, how awful.  I'm so sorry.  What a traumatic event.

Was everyone on the train all right?  Physically, at least?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:17:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Physically, yes. For the train, it was just a minor jerk, I first thought maybe a brake shoe broke off. Psychically, the locomotive driver must be worst off.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:29:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hungary has the same rule as the French trains in that a train driver involved in an accident has to stop driving? It took an actual accident when a train driver had kept driving after witnessing a suicide for this polic y to be implemented.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 05:55:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, I'll go checking. But I do know that at the time Hungary led suicide statistics, a locomotive driver had on average multiple hits during a career. So if they stop driving, then temporarily.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 06:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In 1977, a documentary writer, whom the regime granted the privilege to dig deep into social misery in real-existing socialism, wrote a book about railwaymen on the Hungarian State Railways. I just found an on-line copy. I think the first diary I'll write tomorrow will be a translation of the relevant part.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 06:23:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, the "stop driving" was temporary too. As in, don't keep on driving that train that was involved in the suicide.

Train drivers in that situation are given psychological counselling, and don't have to return to work immediately. The one who was involved in the accident had claimed he was ok.

Given the Paris metro statistics, each metro driver will witness a suicide in his career... So it's not specific to Hungary.

The amount of "Grave accident voyageur" - the notice the RATP gives in such a situation - is staggering, a very regular occurrence.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 06:49:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oew...such 'first time in your life' experience will not fade away immediatly.
I hope you manage to cope well with it.
 

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:28:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This kind of experience is very disturbing, and takes a long time to integrate. Similar story has happened to me, and is still very present.

I sympathize.

One way to talk about it without talking about it is to discuss how death has been relegated to the backyard, how  it's been mystified, hidden. How surprised we all are.

Who here knows how to clean a corpse?

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:34:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the thing is that I had to walk past the(/what I thought to be a?) corpse, did so looking straight ahead, but now I am thinking why I didn't look whether there is some life in him and if I can help. And that's a question my co-passengers must ask themselves, too. We're idiots.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:52:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can sympathize even more as I failed to save that person.

This is the reason why I said that where death is gone in our societies is important. We don't really know how to react, overwhelmed as we are by the sight of blood and probable pain. People with the best reaction call those who know better, the doctors, and that's it. Who will dare put their hands on a wound to stop bleeding?

The reason why I mentioned cleaning corpse is that even the natural death of our parents scares us. We call those who know better, yet again. We let strangers intervene in the middle of difficult moments because we are utterly unprepared, taken aback by something we live with everyday, our body.

I know my great grand mother knew how to clean corpses and she was just a farmer who probably had never left her village.

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 04:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
We're idiots

Nah, you're not.
It was a first time experience, so you did not have a 'manual' in place to react.
I bet you even do not remember what you were thinking that very moment..just registering facts.
It's a very normal human reaction. I've seen it several times.

Coming days you will think a lot about this incident and by your saying 'we're idiots' you are preparing your 'manual' for next time to be not 'an idiot' again.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 04:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I bet you even do not remember what you were thinking that very moment..

Oh, but I do. "I won't gaze at it like those for whom a car crash is spectacle." And "I shouldn't step on anything police would consider as evidence". Wrong manual.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 04:40:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As someone who has spent decades in volunteer emergency response work I respectfully disagree.

For someone untrained and unequipped it was the right manual.  With any head injury spinal cord involvement must be assumed.  When a person has damage to the cervical vertebrae moving the head even slightly could severe the spinal cord and kill them.  

You did what was right.  

You cleared the area and put yourself in a safe place -- when a car is mangled like you describe the danger of it catching fire is very real.  By doing so you allowed the responders clear and ready access to the victims and didn't increase the emergency by becoming a victim yourself.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 05:45:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No idiots there at all, 'cept possibly for the car driver.  To whatever degree it's a shock situation.  You do not judge your reaction under shock.

i hope you are with good friends, and are strong enough to let your own emotions and thoughts flow where they may.  We're all virtually here for you, with respect.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 04:36:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, don't go blaming yourself for what could've been. You ran from a celebration into a severely traumatic event - if you've not been drilled or prepared for situations like these, as most of us aren't, one's instincts are floundering. Also, you were only partially informed of the situation and of what was happening at that point.

Have you been (recently) trained in First Aid? If you have, perhaps only then one might start to walk down that road.

by Nomad on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 04:47:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was a world-exclusive, heh. It took one hour from the accident for it to appear on the web page of a regular news outlet. A one-sentence blurb says one dead, so maybe the body I saw was 'only' seriously hurt. (He flew about 50 metres and his head was full of blood.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:48:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
:( Sorry to hear this. That has always been one of my bigger fears when taking a train.

Take it slow.

by Nomad on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 04:42:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the topic of indifference...

The other evening I took our child to the theatre and we took the tube back just one stop. When we got into the train there was a man collapsed on the ground. Everyone just avoided him, but nobody was doing anything. I decided to activate the emergency alarm but waited until we got to the next station (our destination) as there's no point in alerting the driver in the middle of a tunnel. The driver called someone in the station and waited for a few minutes until someone came down. A woman came over from the next car over and when she saw the man on the groung she said "he's just drunk asleep". I felt very uncomfortable throughout. I was convinced people must be thinking I was unnecessarily delaying their journey. I also did not want to do anything with the man myself. I just meekly waited for staff to come and do whatever they needed to do. But, to the woman's dismissive comment I thought, if any of us passed out in the tube for whatever reason, wouldn't we want help to be called?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 05:05:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of when I had my bike accident.  I'd fallen off, my bike was still half in the road and I was sat on the kerb clutching my face, bleeding.  A car drove past me, slowed down and I saw people peering at me through the windows. Then they speeded up again and drove off. Nobody asked me if I was ok, they just all had a good look and left me there, at about 8pm and dark.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 05:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ie to answer Migeru's question, yes it would have been nice for someone to show some concern in that kind of situation.  

I'd say it is far removed from the one DoDo was in today though since I was obviously moving and capable of sorting myself out. Frankly if I had been in that situation today and thought about trying to help, I doubt I would have because I just wouldn't have known what to do, I'd have been too shocked by it. That's a different reaction to one of not wishing to be inconvenienced by stopping to help someone.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 05:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
from hanging out and caretaking the dying, i've discovered that you give a lot to a very enfeebled person just by 'holding space' with them, especially in situations when words are superfluous or inappropriate.

my first reaction would be to try and let the person know, without touching or moving them, that they weren't alone, or worse, surrounded by people who remained oblivious to their plight.

getting proper medical attention should also obviously be a top priority..

but only just less important would be trying to express solidarity and compassion.

that's a great story in magnifico's roundup this morning about an illegal immigrant who gave himself away to being arrested as the price to help a child who was in a car accident.

he should be offered an honorary citizenship!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Nov 24th, 2007 at 06:58:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about the London underground, but in Paris the train will only stop at the next station when pulling the alarm - the reasoning being that that stop is less than a minute away, and the quicker way to get doctors on the scene inside the wagon is by being at a stop...

I also remember seeing someone on the ground in a station, apparently a drunk diabetic (only found out afterwards). Someone had already called the firemen, and when I enquired about it, and seemed ready to stay a bit, they took the next train... Better behavior.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 05:46:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the London Underground the alarm just alerts the driver, it's really an emergency alarm, not an emergency brake. I suppose emergency brakes only make sense in overground trains. Underground they're just a liability.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 06:08:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indifference...

Back in the 80's I was in Londen with a friend and two girl friends.
We were on the tube, destination Victoria station.
Tube overcrowded. we, first time in London feeling uncomfortable.
Suddenly, 2 meters away a man collapses...people moving up to make place he can fall on the floor and everybody looking elswhere.
Man on the floor starts to shake hevemently and making loud strange noises.
My friend and I make are way to the man by pushing violently people aside. The same moment, from the opposite side, a very young woman kneels near the man's head and put her fingers in the mouth of the man to grab his tongue.  She gave us instructions what to do and said this was a heavy epileptic case.
Fucking nobody else was doing something to help and people were even reluctant to make some place.

Suddenly , the speakers gave a loud beep and a very quiet voice announces the train wouldn't stop in Victoria station because of a bomb-alert.(It was the very same day an IRA bomb exploded in Tower museum, killing German tourists).

Nah, train accelerated while my friend and I were trying to hold the violently shaking man on the flour to avoid harming himself and the young woman franticly trying to keep his breath going on.

2 minutes(ages) later the train stops, everybody is leaving and other people enter the train.
I couln't find an emergency thing whatsoever, so I ran to the door and can yell to a man in uniform "call an ambulance" he replies "are you sure?" and I say "godverdomme yes!" The man starts to run and I feel the doors are closing, the girl friends came to help to keep the doors open so the train couln't leave.
Angry people all around, luckily after a few minutes a professional rescue-team arrived and took the man with them.
Nah, welcome to London.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 06:28:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm getting old, this thing happened 17 July 1974.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 07:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you're good, D.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Nov 24th, 2007 at 02:16:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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