courtesy of ‘angela n.’
Yesterday evening around 7:45pm, Metro passengers at the Anacostia Metro station saw something that every Metro rider dreads: they saw a man fall from the raised platform and onto the tracks below. To make matters worse, this man was in a motorized wheelchair and unable to help himself get free. Four riders jumped to the tracks below, according to our source who preferred not be named, and began to help get him back to safety.
They were able to get the attention of the inbound Green Line train and were successful at summoning the station manager. They did require help, though, to get the passenger off the tracks and back to safety. A Metro spokesman confirmed that the man was transported to the hospital with a cut above his eye, and remarked that witnesses said the man strongly smelled of alcohol. Metro stopped all trains near the incident until the EMS responders were able to get him off the tracks and safely into the nearby ambulance.
We’d like to thank the people who jumped down to the tracks to help this man, but we also want to remind everyone that doing that is incredibly dangerous, and that the voltage going through the 3rd rail can severely injure you or outright kill you. Please be very careful in assisting anyone. There are intercoms throughout the metro stations that go directly to the Station Manager, who can call for trained help and also stop the trains coming into the station, who may not see you on the tracks if you’re going to help.
Update: We asked WMATA spokesman Ron Holzer why there had been no automated or manual notification of the stop in Green Line service around this incident. He said: “If an incident does not cause a delay of more than 10 minutes, there isn’t any notice given. Central control was notified and third rail power was cut. Anyone who was in the station at the time power was restored would have heard an announcement that the third rail is about to be energized and anyone with a reason for this not to happen should contact OCC immediately, otherwise consider the third rail energized. At the time of the incident, headways were 10 minutes apart. One train did sit for about 5 minutes but not long enough to cause the next train to be delayed.”
So it may just be me who is a bit ignorant, but is there a resource online that speaks to exactly which is the “3rd rail” and how the electricity works through those rails that could educate me in case I’m ever in that position?
I’ve heard many different takes on all the rails being covered but one of them being dangerous (clearly the 3rd), but only if you touch it on the side.
I’m guessing WMATA doesn’t have a tutorial since that could be seen as encouraging people to jump down there, but it seems like it’d be really useful information so concerned citizens can help others with confidence instead of hesitant fear of the unknown.
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Ryan, in the DC Metro rail system, the third rail has a white(ish) cover over it with warning stickers. You could technically touch the top of it by reaching under the cover. Because you are almost always somehow grounded while out and about, you should assume that touching the third rail will electrocute you.
At stations, the third rail is always the one farthest from the platform. In tunnels, the third rail is on the *opposite* side of the tunnel with lights (in other words, it’s on the unlit side of the tunnel).
Picture here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ThirdRail,Metro,Washington,DC.jpg
@Southpaw018: Very helpful, thanks!
How about this: Stay off the tracks!!!!! Then you won’t have to worry about electrocution.
Umm, the question was for information about what to do IF you were ever in a position to need it. Like wanting to know which snakes are the most dangerous even if you do not see yourself being in a position to need that knowledge. If you need that information you will certainly want it!
@Ryan2499: I have this same exact question every time I read stories like this, thank you for asking!!
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