NEW YORK – A train heading downtown during the morning rush hour derailed at the West 125th Street station in Harlem last week, ramming into a concrete wall causing a small fire in the tunnel. The accident left hundreds of panic-stricken passengers stranded underground in the dark on stalled trains, causing the transit system to be disrupted for several hours.
But AFSCME-represented public service workers resolved the situation with their customary calm professionalism.
Emergency Medical Technician Tuanika Brown and her partner, Ricky Delgado, arrived at the scene of the “A” train crash within a couple of minutes and began evacuating passengers from the station and providing first aid.
Among the many people Brown helped evacuate was an asthmatic mother and her 6-month-old boy. The child was wearing just a diaper and was crying. Brown gave oxygen to the mother and her son before they were transported to Harlem Hospital in a Fire Department of New York (FDNY) ambulance for an evaluation.
“The only thing on my mind was making sure that the baby was taken care of,” said Brown, who works at FDNY Station 16. Neither the baby nor his mother suffered major injuries and were later released from the hospital.
Brown, who has been on the job for three years and is a member of Local 2507, was one of 300 first responders, firefighters and police officers to arrive at the station during the June 27 crash.
“The passengers were upset and some were crying, but once we got there and started evacuating people they started to calm down and you can feel the sense of relief,” said Brown.
Delgado rescued dozens of passengers from the pitch-black, smoke-filled train tunnel and escorted them out of the station. He carried those who needed more attention on stretchers and made sure they were taken to the hospital.
“Ricky is awesome,” said Brown of her EMT colleague.
On a typical day, the city’s subway system carries 5.7 million riders.
“Our EMTs and paramedics are always ready to make sure New Yorkers are safe,” said Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay. “That’s our job and we take our responsibility seriously.”