Metro workers refused to touch a female passenger lying unconscious and face down on the floor of a Red Line car at the Friendship Heights station yesterday afternoon and instead appealed to the other riders for help, said one of the passengers.
A transit spokeswoman acknowledged that a station manager and another employee had encountered the ill passenger, but she said station workers are not trained in emergency medicine and are supposed to call for an ambulance rather than try to treat victims.
After the 1:45 p.m. incident, the woman appeared to recover somewhat and was escorted onto another train by a rail supervisor, the spokeswoman said. Metro officials said they do not know the identity of the woman.
Brooke Marcus, 32, said she entered the car at the Bethesda station with another passenger to find a woman sprawled on the floor of the car. Marcus said five passengers seated in the car were ignoring the woman lying a few feet away.
"This guy who walked on the train with me looked at me, and we said to the other passengers, 'Is she okay?' and the others said nothing," Marcus said.
After she and the other passenger tried unsuccessfully to find a pulse on the woman, Marcus hit the emergency button to alert the train operator.
When the train pulled into the next station, Friendship Heights, it was met by two Metro workers who boarded the car and looked at the victim but refused to touch her, Marcus said. "They asked me if I knew CPR," she said.
"Then they asked each other if they had gloves and got in a big debate about it. . . . They got down in her face and said, 'Ma'am, can you hear us? Do you think you could get up?' "
Marcus said it was clear the woman could not move on her own, so she and the other passenger lifted her up and carried her onto the platform. "We carried her off the Metro car while the two employees watched us," Marcus said.
Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Johnson said the transit agency is investigating the incident.
The workers called an ambulance, as Metro policy dictates, Johnson said.
Johnson said the woman was able to sit up on a bench on the platform and declined medical treatment when the ambulance arrived. Instead, the woman said she wanted to get back on a train, Johnson said. A rail supervisor accompanied the woman onto another train, Johnson said. "We don't know where she went on the system--she was wobbly and mumbling," she said.
Marcus said Metro workers should have better training. "It was really scary--the fact that these five people watched her and didn't do a thing and then Metro employees are asking normal citizen riders whether or not I know CPR," she said.