What do you do when a fight breaks out on a metro train?

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Topic: What do you do when a fight breaks out on a metro train?

Public Safety February 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm

What do you do when a fight breaks out on a metro train?

Just call the train operator? And if so, what is a reasonable amount of time for a response?
I was on the redline going home between platforms and a fight was breaking out between two late teens/early 20 year olds and someone who appeared to be mentally. I called the train operator and gave her the car number. It was full 90 seconds passed after the train stopped at the platform (and the doors had been open) that we heard an intercom call from the train conductor to ask personnel to come down to the platform because a fight. By the time any personnel got to the train the two perpetrators had given yet another blow with the victim on the ground and gotten off the train.
I didn’t try to stop it, something I’m not proud of, because one of the guys kept reaching in his back for a knife- I do believe if they hadn’t decided to get off the train and instead kept wailing on the guy he’d probably would have taken enough hits for serious injury.
Something this serious is not something I have seen often but I’m curious, what do you do? The @wmata twitter account just said: a) tell station mgr b) call MTPD 202-962-2121 c) use emergency intercom on pylon d) tell train operator.
I’m not pretending to know everything that train operators/station personnel have to deal with at any given moment, but in this instance doing the above just wasn’t effective.

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It sounds to me like you did what you needed to do: Report it, observe, and keep yourself safe. Unfortunately, when there are weapons and multiple attackers involved, it does not make a lot of sense to jump in unless you are well trained and willing to risk your life or serious injury. 90 seconds can be a long time in an attack, and often times it can be too late. However, if you had jumped in, likelihood is that you would have been the next one being attacked.
There 2 additional things I would add to the list you outlined above: 1) you always have the option of pulling the emergency button, and I wouldn’t be afraid to do so in life or death situations; 2) Try to remember everything you can about the perpetrators – height, weight, looks, demeanor, what they say, what they wear etc. Then, tell the police. Likelihood is these guys have done this sort of thing before, and in a similar way, and you can help catch the perpetrators with this information. Take notes ight after the event because your memory might fade after a few hours. By doing so and reporting it, you can help immensely. Trains have cameras and so have cars. This information can be life-saving for others.
The last thing that’s important is that you find a good support system after such an event. There is part of our brains that can’t distinguish between what happens to someone else and what happens to us. You want to make sure that you can process what happened mentally, emotionally and physically so tat you have no lingering trauma. perhaps you already did, but if you didn’t make sure you do. Don’t brush it off and let others tell you (or you tell youself) that nothing happened. Something did happen and it helps to process it ina  healthy and simple way. I wrote a little about this in one of my recent blogs (http://luminouswarrior.com/blog/decision-to-fight-for-self-defense), maybe that helps. If you don’t know what I’m talking about when Is ay “process” and “self care”, come by our center next week. We happen to have an Open House all week and you can learn more. Hope this helps a bit. Please know that often times, in violent encounters, heroism doesn’t help anyone. Smart, alert action however, can help prevent future events. I’m glad you are safe.

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