Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I was aboard a Metrorail car (#3067) and pressed the button to report a critical medical emergency at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6, yet the train operator refused to call for help. Here's what happened:
Our train had exited Union Station, when it stopped while approaching the Rhode Island Avenue station. The train operator announced that our train would be holding for a while because an ambulance was at the Rhode Island Avenue station to remove a sick passenger from the train ahead.
As she made this announcement, the air conditioning and fan went off. The temperature outside was more than 100 degrees. In no time at all, we were sweltering. Many of us started screaming for help. I went to the intercom.
It took the train operator three minutes to respond, and when she did, she was yelling over the intercom to "stop playing with the emergency intercom." I yelled back that I was trying to report a medical emergency, a car full of passengers struggling to breathe, that we were trapped with no air.
The train operator yelled back, "What do you mean you have no air conditioning? We have air conditioning in my cars, so stop playing around on my intercom."
I repeated that this was a medical emergency. We threatened to break into the next car.
By this time we had spent 20 minutes trapped in the hotbox and we were beginning to panic. We were to the point of passing out.
Just as we were getting ready to force open the doors, the train moved into the Rhode Island Avenue station, the doors opened and we jumped off and got onto the nearest air-conditioned car.
When I got off at Silver Spring, I ran to the front of the train and told the train operator I was the one on the intercom and I asked her why she ignored our cry for help. As I talked to her I wrote down her name, and she immediately . . . [made an obscene gesture] and said, "There ain't nothing I could have done about the medical emergency on your car . . . ."
The actions of that train operator speak loudly of Metrorail's failure to properly train employees in emergency situations.
Dr. Gridlock shares your sense of outrage. We cannot have train operators ignoring emergency needs and cursing at customers to boot.
Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Y. Johnson says Metro did look into this situation. Apparently, the car you were riding in lost contact with the power on the tracks, resulting in the loss of air conditioning. As for the rude train operator, Johnson says that Metro has "addressed the matter" and that the issue is closed. She would not say what, if any, disciplinary steps were taken.
This is not comforting. I would like to think this train operator is no longer employed by Metro. Have any other passengers experienced anything like this?
Roaring for the Lions
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Why are we being denied the pleasure of being greeted by the massive lion statues that adorned the Taft Bridge (Connecticut Avenue NW over Rock Creek Park)?
The bridge renovation was completed over 18 months ago and still no lions!
Is it true that the stone felines are tied up in red tape? We want our cats back.
The lions have been gone for five years now. The city is restoring them and should have them back in place in 9 to 12 months, according to Gary Burch, chief traffic engineer for the city.
Of course, we've had deadlines come and go. The only encouraging sign is that people keep expressing concern about the lions. There's a Web site, www.freethelions.org, with the history of the bridge and the lions. People care about this.
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Wednesday or Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.
JUMP INFORMATION APPENDED FROM FILE N:\NEP\DAYS\08161999\08160135.NVT
Springfield Interchange Update
Monday through Thursday:
* From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., traffic will shift in right lane on the southbound Interstate 95 off/on ramp between the Commerce Street Bridge and Old Keene Mill Road (Route 644) for bridge demolition.
* From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.), flaggers will be slowing and stopping traffic to allow access in and out of the work zone on the HOV ramp to westbound Old Keene Mill Road for the construction of a retaining wall.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon) the right lane will be closed on Old Keene Mill Road to the closed southbound I-95 ramp to build a detour. One lane will remain open.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon), one lane on eastbound Old Keene Mill Road between Backlick Road and Loisdale roads will be closed for bridge work. One lane will remain open.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon), one lane will be closed on Franconia Road (Route 644) from Frontier Drive to Loisdale Road for the splicing of fiber-optic cable. One lane will remain open.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9a.m. to noon), the right lane on Franconia Road (Route 644) will be closed at Robert E. Lee High School for pipe work. Two lanes will remain open.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon), the right turn lane at the intersection of Franconia Road and Commerce Street will be closed for a gas line relocation. Three lanes will remain open.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon), the left lanes in each direction on Frontier Drive will be closed between Franconia Road and Springfield Mall Entrance No. 3 for pipe line placement in the median.
* From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon), flaggers will direct traffic in each direction on Loisdale Road through the work zone at Newington Road for the construction of a detour.
* From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane on Old Keene Mill Road will be closed from Backlick Road to Loisdale Road for bridge work. One lane will remain open.
Wednesday and Thursday:
* From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., two lanes will be closed on I-95 northbound between Newington Road and Exit 169 for overhead sign work. Two lanes will remain open.
* From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., one lane will be closed on I-95 northbound between Newington Road and Exit 169 for overhead sign work. Three lanes will remain open.
* Fall HOV lanes will be closed from Franconia-Springfield Parkway to Washington for the paving of HOV lanes.
For updates on closures, check www.springfieldinterchange.com or call toll-free 1-877-959-5222 to reach VDOT information operators.