WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 ― As crowds were involved in their daily metro commute this morning, Blue Line passengers were surprised by a strange sequence of events. While the metro train was stopped in a tunnel, a passenger passed out.
The emergency prompted fellow passengers to use the emergency intercom to inform the metro conductor of the situation. According to an eye-witness, he then proceeded to ask three questions to assess the situation. First, he asked “Is the passenger conscious or unconscious?” Second, “Is the passenger a male or female?” Last, “Is the passenger black or white?”
The disturbing last question brought about an atmosphere of shock and discomfort for nearby passengers of all races. An African-American female passenger was genuinely disturbed at the question and responded, “What!? Why does that matter?!”
It is suspected that the WMATA employee asked the question to be able to identify the passenger to other emergency assistance personnel. The assumed “black or white” dynamic was seen as very distasteful and did not include the possibility of other common ethnicities.
Many passengers were confused why the conductor did not simply ask for a description of the passenger, including race and gender, if he needed to know that information. The protocol for conductors in emergency situations has not been made public.
The passenger and the conductor have not been identified. At press time, WMATA could not yet be reached for comment.
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