A railway worker hurries onto the tracks to help a woman in her 70s who has fallen from the platform in her wheelchair. With a train about a quarter of a mile away and due to arrive in five minutes at the Southend Central station in Essex, he and three onlookers pulled the woman to safety.
The woman, who was with her carer, was taken to the hospital; she was not critically injured. But the railway worker, Alan Chittock, has been suspended from his position for being a good Samaritan that evening of August 28 because, as the train company, C2C, says, Chittock failed to follow “safety procedures.”
A man who should be praised for doing the right thing and rushing to save someone else is being punished?
Calling the possible firing that Chittock faces “diabolical,” Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, says in the BBC:
“What did they expect him to do – just stand by and watch?”
“All this person did was what anyone with any common sense would have done.”
Chittock is on the platform staff at Southend Central Station and was at the ticket gates on August 28; he has been a railway worker for 30 years. According to what a C2C spokesman tells the Mirror, the official policy is that workers are supposed to alert the signaler (who can stop trains) if they see anyone on the tracks; they are not allowed to get on the tracks without their permission.
As witnesses note, the woman simply rolled off the platform and Chittock immediately went to help her. Commuter Matt Findlay comments, ”does the company really expect staff to leave people on the tracks? He deserves a medal not a suspension.”
Company policy is, apparently, far more important to uphold than saving lives.
Fortunately, there are plenty of people more inclined to think and act like Chittock. A family with an autistic child recently found themselves the subject of unwanted attention when their child was in distress at a restaurant. Ashley England and her family were eating out at a China Grove, North Carolina, restaurant when their 8-year-old nonverbal son became “rowdy” and started “hitting the table,” England told WBTV. A waitress then informed them that another patron had paid their bill before leaving.
The family of a child with disabilities in New Jersey also found itself the recipient of an act of kindness, after experiencing the opposite. 6-year-old Alex Bean has a rare brain disorder, cerebellar hypoplasia, and is unable to walk or talk. As his mother, Tracy Bean, told the Asbury Park Press, the family has a large red wagon that they use whenever they are out with Alex. Last week, the wagon was stolen from their yard.
A security camera video showed a young woman tossing the wagon over the fence as another watched. The video went viral after it was posted online and, the next day, the young woman showed up at Bean’s house. She had a new wagon, a stuffed toy and a note; she explained to Bean that she had made a bad decision and was sorry. Bean brought Alex out to meet her.
As Bean said to NJ.com,
“I always feel like it’s Alex against the world. Alex is in the hospital a lot and when he’s in the hospital, he does laps around the hall in the wagon. He loves the wagon. His face lights up when he sees it.”
I can more than empathize with her words. So very often, it does feel like it’s our severely autistic teenage son Charlie “against the world” and it’s an unfriendly one, intolerant of his needs and unusual mannerisms. Knowing there are people out there like the anonymous patron of the North Carolina restaurant and Alan Chittock makes a huge difference.
One young woman in New Jersey made a very poor judgment and turned the situation around. Surely the C2C company could do the same by lifting the suspension it has placed on Chittock and recognizing his life-saving act?
Photo from Thinkstock