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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Au Secours

Whitney Museum, NYC
Photo by myself near the Park Avenue Armory at Park Avenue and East 66th Street.

The annual Whitney Biennale is on display there until June 1st, 2008. The event shows current work from around the world. The Whitney Museum is located several blocks away in a striking Brutalist building by architect Marcel Breuer.

For more information about the Biennale, click here


This morning I had my nose buried in the latest New Yorker. The subway was lurching along between the first stop in Brooklyn stop and Manhattan.

Suddenly out of nowhere, a woman yelled out, 'Is there a doctor on this train? Is anyone a doctor?! Does someone know CPR?!!'

My view was obscured from the sick passenger. Fifteen feet away from me, most people seemed calm. I doubt there were many doctors on a subway at nine in the morning, but there could have been an EMT, who knows.

Not to alarm anyone, but no one rushed over to the troubled end of the train. In fact, some riders went back to reading their magazines, or closed their eyes to get back to napping.

I was shocked. Maybe people decided that since they didn't know CPR, they could do whatever they pleased? Maybe they judged the lack of panic (aside from the shouting woman) as a sign that everything was okay?

The woman who shouted explained that the person had had a seizure. At that point, the train emerged from the tunnel to cross the Manhattan bridge. A couple passengers whipped out their cell phones.

I felt guilty. Should I do something? Should I have done something? How could I be shocked by people napping when I was equally inactive?

When the train pulled into the station a couple minutes later, an MTA guy jumped into our car. By then, the sick person had come to and was fine, refusing medical help. The train doors closed and we were off to the next stop. I quietly promised myself never to get sick on a train.

On my way home tonight, I saw a man trip on the sidewalk in the semi-darkness. A couple older men nearby came over to help. One rescuer picked up the man's hat, the other helped the man get on his feet.

I shouldn't give up my faith in New Yorkers quite yet.


Olivier said...

j'adore le Whitney (sauf que l'on a pas le droit de prendre des photos), surtout la salle en hommage a Hopper et les créations de Cadwell. Le musée doit être sympathique pendant cette biennale.

I love the Whitney (except that it has no right to take photos), especially the hall a tribute Hopper and the creations of Cadwell. The museum should be sympathetic during this biennial.

Nikon said...

Very nice photo of the Whitney and the story is interesting, too. At least you were concerned & at least it was just a seizure - scary to look at but generally the victim is fine once it passes.

Kitty said...

Hi Olivier
yknow I've only been to the Whitney once? How embarrassing. And I've never been to a Biennale. I read a review of one and I've been skeptical ever since.

I need to be a better art appreciator!

Hi Nikon
actually the photo is of the Park Avenue armory. The Whitney is a very modern building by Marcel Breuer.
The scariest thing was how out of the blue it was. I'm so glad the guy was all right.

Kizz said...

The only thing that anyone could have done before the train came out of the tunnel is to go to the emergency button by one of the doors (I'm not sure they're on the old trains) and press it to talk to the conductor. I think New Yorkers are pretty helpful and practical but that means that they don't respond when someone overreacts (Screaming for a doc and CPR without figuring out if the person is breathing first is...a little over the top, screaming for help is not over the top at least to me), they prefer people to calmly pick up the severed limb and escort the person to curb to wait for an ambulance, you know? It's the weather and the clothing and no one knowing what to wear coupled with flu and stuff, I've seen 2 people pass out on trains this winter so far. OK, the trains were packed so I saw no one but I was part of the buzz that went on while we got to the next station and the people got help.

Olivier said...

Je voulais te dire, que ma photo n'est pas la photo d'une tombe, mais d'une borne kilométrique du temps de la révolution française.
I wanted to tell you that my picture is not the picture of a tomb, but a Kilometre time of the French Revolution.

StationStops.cp, said...

Here's the thing - when this sort of thing happens there are two roles - the person who calls for help (the person who was calling for help) and the person who can help (evidentally no one on the train had first aid training).

The first role had been filled and there just wasn't anyone qualified to do the second.

However, in the second example, the guy just needed a helping hand - New Yorkers are always willing to help out to their abilities, but they tend not to volunteer unqualified help.

People seizing and fainting on the subway is EXTREMELY common and I have heard it is the #1 cause of delays.

Unfortunately MTA staff is poorly trained to deal with this most basic of first aid, as you can read here.

Eva said...

One of the things I love about NY are all the exhibits. I never get tired of looking at pictures made by talented artists.

As for your story from the train, I totally understand your reaction. But please, don't give up on NY people. I've met some of the most wonderful people there :-)

Sonia said...

Very nice photo in Black & White! Well done!

Tammy said...

Hmmm...maybe it's the younger generation that "doesn't want to get involved"?

Another beautiful picture Kitty!

Ming the Merciless said...

I would have sat calmly on my spot and let the professionals take care of business. Nothing is worst than a group of curious onlookers rushing to the last car to look at the victim, thereby clogging the path for any real help. I think we New Yorkers are pretty blase about stuff like that.

I have been on trains when someone passed out and everyone cleared the area so she could sit up. Someone offered her water but she refused. It was very orderly and nobody went hysterical.

Kitty said...

Hey Kizz
Well yes, no one could have exited the person. That's practical thinking. But honestly, no one knew CPR?
I couldn't see what was going on, so I too, was part of the buzz. I was taught CPR in high school and was thinking, uh...should I go over there?
I guess I'm especially appalled because I did not do anything. I could have made a fool of myself, but I didn't. Of course, a heart attack is much different than a seizure.

I agree though. Most NYers are helpful, kind, active, etc. Maybe it was too early in the morning.

Hi Olivier
I'm glad you're taking photos again! I especially like the historical shots

Welcome Station Stops
I can see your point with the unqualified help. Perhaps that was my affliction.
Yes, fainting is especially common in the summer!

Hi Eva
I love the art world as well, and it's cool to think that the most avant-garde is shown here.
Thanks for your kind words about NY

Thanks Sonia and Tammy dear!

Hi Ming
The gawking would have been worse than going back to sleep, yes.

I suppose you're right. NYers are used to chaos. We live in chaos. Heart attacks and fainting spells are nothing compared to Century 21.