TTC: Additional Paramedics and Portable Defibrillators Will Prevent Passenger Deaths

Update: see previous post – TTC: Man Dies in Subway Station After Public Defibrillator Malfunctions

A 71 year-old-man passed away on November 8, 2013 as a result of a heart attack at Museum Subway Station.
A 71 year-old-man passed away on November 8, 2013 as a result of a heart attack he suffered at the Museum Subway Station.  The portable defibrillator that was used on this gentleman malfunctioned – the battery disconnected from the unit and it could not be used when it needed to be used.  The defibrillator at the Museum station, is located upstairs across from the collector’s booth. All the portable defibrillator’s used in the TTC are housed in a wall mounted units mounted across from the collector’s booths.

The TTC is an agency of the City of Toronto and is overseen by a Board.

The TTC Mandate:
The TTC serves the people of Toronto by ensuring your transit system is reliable, safe, and prepared for the future. To that end, the Board oversees matters of policy, planning TTC services; constructing, maintaining and operating the system; and expanding services and facilities.

A quick walk through the Museum Subway station will reveal numerous fire extinguishers in different areas in the station, both upstairs and downstairs on the subway platform.. A search for a defibrillator however, will only reveal one (1), directly across from the collector’s booth upstairs.

There are numerous fire extinguishers located on the Museum subway platform, but not one (1) portable defibrillator.  If someone has a heart attack and needs to have their heart restarted, someone would have to run upstairs to obtain the portable defibrillator and run back downstairs, using valuable time in this process. A portable defibrillator in the immediate vicinity would eliminate the time wasted in searching for the only defibrillator in the station to reset the persons heart rhythm.
There are numerous fire extinguishers located on the Museum subway platform, but not one (1) portable defibrillator. If someone has a heart attack and needs to have their heart restarted, someone would have to run upstairs to obtain the only portable defibrillator and run back downstairs, using valuable time in this process. A portable defibrillator in the immediate vicinity would eliminate the time wasted in searching for the only defibrillator in the station to reset the person’s heart rhythm.

Fire extinguishers put fires out, while a defibrillator kickstarts or resets the heart’s rythmn when the heart stops.

The death of a passenger on November 8, 2013 should serve as a wake-up call for the TTC and Toronto City Hall.  Another portable defibrillator located on Museum station’s subway platform may have saved a life.

The TTC is a massive transportation network, moving over a million people a day wtihin the subway network, within the City of Toronto. During rush hour, over 2000 passengers riding the subway, pass through the Museum subway station every five (5) minutes.

After I began to research this issue, I was able to speak to a TTC supervisor.  I told him that I was disturbed that I could find several fire extinguishers on the Museum subway platform, but that I could only locate one portable defibrillator and that it was located upstairs across from the collector’s booth.

The supervisor was good enough to take the portable defibrillator out of its alarmed cabinet and show it to me.  He also shared his thoughts with me after I informed him that it was my position that portable defibrillators should be stationed throughout the station, not only across from the collector’s booth.

The automated external defibrillators in subway stations are located on the wall, within view of the collector's booth.
The automated external defibrillators in subway stations are located on the in a wall mounted alarmed case, always within view of the collector’s booth. The Medtronic Lifepak Defibrillators are used within the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). This is the one located in the Museum subway station across the collector’s booth.

He took the portable defibrillator out its housing and an alarm began to ring.

He should me the unit and pointed out that the battery was charged and that the paddles were still within their package and that the expiry date hadn’t yet expired for the paddles. He stated that the defibrillator used on November 8, 2013 had been removed and it was replaced with a spare, labelled “Spare #2” defibrillator.

He said that the charge is checked at least once a month to ensure that the battery is charged, in the event that the defibrillator is needed to be used in an emergency.  He said that he was trained to use it about four and half years ago, but hasn’t received any refresher training since.

Currently, the TTC houses life-saving defibrillators in close proximity, within view of TTC collectors who work within the collector's booth. It is expected in an emergency that the collector run out of the collector's booth and take the defibrillator out of the cabinet and run it down to the person who needs to have his/her heart reset.  Unfortunately, many of those who staff the collector's booths have physical restrictions and are performing modified duties and aren't capable of bounding out of the collector's booth, running to and grabbing the defibrillator and running to the person who is lying on the ground in need of immediate medical attention.  In addition to this fact, the TTC already announced that they were going to remove all of the collectors from the collector booths in the future.  It is time that additional defibrillators be placed in subways, on subway and bus platforms.
Currently, the TTC houses life-saving defibrillators in close proximity, within view of TTC collectors who work within the collector’s booth. It is expected in an emergency that the collector run out of the collector’s booth and take the defibrillator out of the cabinet and run it down to the person who needs to have his/her heart reset. Unfortunately, many of those who staff the collector’s booths are senior employees or those who have physical restrictions and are performing modified duties and aren’t capable of bounding out of the collector’s booth, running to and grabbing the defibrillator and running to the person who is lying on the ground in need of immediate medical attention. In addition to this fact, the TTC already announced that they were going to remove all of the collectors from the collector booths in the future and automate them (in response to a shooting of a collector at the Dupont station (other collectors have been robbed at Dupont, Leslie, Glencairn, Chester and Christie stations). It is time that additional defibrillators be placed in subways, on subway and bus platforms. What price will TTC place on a human life?

I told him that I was concerned that the only place a portable defibrillator was located in all of the subway stations, was upstairs, opposite the collector’s booth.  The TTC has already announced that it was their plan to eventually eliminate the collector’s out of the collector’s booth and to automate them.  If this was the case, their close promixity to the collector’s booth would delay any attention to an individual suffering from a heart condition, that the portable defibrillator was invented to help.

TTC: Your Safety Matters to Us - the TTC could be made safer and should be.
TTC: Your Safety Matters to Us – the TTC could be made safer and should be.

I recommended to him that the portable defibrillators should be downstairs on the subway platform, as well as upstairs and accessible to everyone, not just upstairs, accessible to the TTC collector to retrieve.

He informed me that the TTC had two (2) paramedics working within it everyday and that they carried their own portable defibrillator. He recommended that many more should be hired and should be scattered appropriately within the system and that this move would be much more for the safety of passengers. These two paramedics carry portable defibrillators with them.

The automated external defibrillators in subway stations are located on the wall, within view of the collector's booth.
The automated external defibrillators in subway stations are located on the wall, within view of the collector’s booth. Unfortunately, there is only one located in the stations.  There needs to be more.

It is difficult to imagine that there are only two (2) paramedics assigned to a transit system that carrys on it, over a million passengers everyday. More paramedics present within the public transit system everyday would make the TTC safer for passengers.

Recommendations:

To ensure that the transit system is safe and prepared for the future, the following recommendations should be seriously reviewed and considered by the TTC Board and the City of Toronto, before they are implemented:

1. The TTC should put on a public awareness campaign regarding portable defibrillators in each station and offer to train all TTC staff and passengers in the use of these AED units.

2. Additional portable defibrillators should be placed in several strategic places throughout the subway system, including, but not limited to:

  • within all subway stations at the subway platform level, as well as busing stations; the larger the station, the more defibrillators should be utilized
  • inside subways on all lines

3. In addition to additional defibrillators being utilized, more paramedics should be utilized on the transit system, everyday of every month.

4. TTC staff should have inclass Certified CPR & AED refresher courses every six (6) months after they have had their initial full training on both.

Hopefully the City of Toronto will not use the TTC as a political football and will instead realize the significance of these recommendations, given that ridership grows every year and that the age of the average rider is increasing, with more and more seniors riding the TTC every year.

More portable defibrillators are required in the busier or larger subway stations, especially the interchange subway stations.
More portable defibrillators are required in the busier or larger subway stations, especially the interchange subway stations.

 

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on RedditEmail to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.