Safety is a top priority on Valley Metro's light rail system, and that goes beyond just making sure that no one is injured while standing at the platform or riding the trains.  I recently had the opportunity to witness first-hand the tight coordination in the response to a medical situation on a train.

It was just another Wednesday night for a train operator on the eastern end of his run through Mesa when he got a notice that someone had pressed the emergency call button in one of his cars. "I wasn't able to hear him too clearly," the operator told me later. "I thought he said he wasn't able to breathe, so I called the OCC (Operations Control Center) to get clearance to check on him."

I was on the job that night at the OCC. My desk is sandwiched between the work areas of two important teams. On one end, there are the dispatchers who organize and deploy security teams.  On the other end, there are the line controllers.  Their job is to orchestrate the whole rail system and respond to any issue that may prevent the trains from running on time. I heard the operator of the train call in with his request to check on the passenger who had pressed the emergency call button, and the line controllers quickly gave him permission to do so.

The operator was able to locate the ailing man swiftly due to a video feed in his control cab.  "His voice was really low," he said. "I asked him if he needed medical attention, and he said yes."

The operator told the controllers the situation, and the controllers immediately responded. The Mesa Fire Department was notified, a Valley Metro rail supervisor was sent to get a first-hand look, and a security team was also dispatched.

Only five minutes had passed since the passenger pressed the emergency call button when the road supervisor arrived. The ailing man had exited the train at Mesa Dr/Main St under his own power.  The operator continued service in the next minute.  Security arrived soon after that, and just a few minutes later, the Mesa Fire Department arrived. Fire crews assessed the man's condition and arranged transport to a hospital. 

The whole event was over in just ten minutes. It was an impressive response to an emergency situation. The coordination between the train operator, line controllers, security staff and rail supervisor was tight and seamless. We hope our passenger is okay, and that the swift actions of everyone involved helped him in his time of need.

Alex Tsotsos
Rail Operations Communications Specialist
Writer, editor, musician, gamer, and former news professional. Frequently seen at Phoenix Rising matches and jogging around Gainey Ranch. May throw things in the presence of typos.