Good Samaritan 101: How to Help a Fallen Elderly Person on the Subway

Help A Conscious Fallen Passenger Safely and Responsibly

Riding the subway is a way of life for most New Yorkers, but the system’s network of stairs, tiled walkways, sudden elevation and floor texture changes can make even a short train ride hazardous for older adults.

On a recent subway ride, I watched an older woman misjudge the distance between the train and platform, catch a toe on the train and fall forward into the carriage.  Several people rushed to her aid, hoisted her by the shoulders into a seat and went on with their days. Helping a Senior on the Subway in NYC

While it is always encouraging to watch New Yorkers buck the “I’m walking over here” stereotype, these would-be helping hands ran the risk of causing further injury while attempting to offer assistance.

Read on to learn how you can do your part to help a conscious fallen passenger safely and responsibly:

1 – Stay calm. Assess the situation and make sure that the fallen person is not in the path of moving trains.  Only make the smallest adjustments necessary to avoid immediate hazards until you know they are conscious and have not experienced head, neck or spine trauma.

2 – Communicate. Speak to the person, let them know you are helping them and not to rush back to their feet.

3 – Examine the person for serious injuries (broken bones, bruising, possible sprains, etc.) and ask them if they would like to get up, or need paramedics. Do not rush the person.

4 – If they are hurt or not confident they can get up, stay with them and call 911, or use the on-board or in-station intercoms to call for help.  NEVER pull the emergency brake, as it will stop the train suddenly and possibly injure others. Keep the person comfortable and awake until help arrives.

5 – If they are confident they can get up and are not badly injured, identify the nearest seat and talk through your plan.

6 – First, gently help the person roll into a face down position, then place their hands flat on the floor.  The person should then push up and bring out one knee at a time until they are in a hands-and-knees crawling position.  In this position, they can safely move to the nearest seat, stopping with their head and shoulders just in front of the seat.

During this and all following steps, your main responsibilities are directing the person and providing support so that sudden train movement will not knock them sideways. If the person is unable to perform any of these steps on their own, the safest thing to do is guide them to the floor and await help.

7 – Once in front of the seat, support the person’s weight as they move one hand onto the seat, followed by their other hand.

8 – Ask the person to lean most of their weight on the seat and bring their stronger leg forward and place their foot flat on the floor.

9 – While providing support on the fallen person’s midsection, guide them to push off the ground with their strong leg and both hands to push themselves high enough to bring out their second foot and pivot their bottom into the seat.

10 – Once the person is safely seated, reconfirm that they do not feel any severe pain and are not dizzy, nauseous or show any other signs of serious injury.

11 – Be sure to look around for any items the person may have dropped, and ideally get a dab of hand sanitizer for yourself and the person who fell, as you have both had a lifetime’s worth of contact with the floor of a subway car.

Always remember:

Remember that the fallen person should be capable of doing the majority of the physical work – you are there simply to guide and provide support. If a person is unable to right themselves on their own, emergency services should be contacted for the fallen individual’s safety.

Also remember that during these procedures, the fallen person should never push themselves farther off the ground than necessary to complete each step, as this lowers the impact of a second fall.

SelectCare Home Care Services of NY hopes that you found this guide useful. Our agency’s motto is that “the right person makes all the difference” and we hope that this information can make you the right person to make a difference next time you see a fellow commuter in need.

To learn more about how you can help others, be sure to check out the American Red Cross’s website to learn more about free first aid training courses in your neighborhood.

If you wish to learn more about SelectCare and how we help older New Yorkers live happier, healthier lives in their long-time homes, call us any time or request a free home health care guide.