The Orange Line Train Rescue Is Both Inspiring and a Tragedy

Video on the MBTA shows commuters rushing to a woman's aid to free a stuck leg. A tweet captured something else.

Orange Line commuters rushed to the aid of a woman whose leg had gotten stuck in the five-inch gap between the train and the Mass. Ave. platform on Friday afternoon, but that was just the beginning of the story.

The incident has since gone viral, for reasons that tell two different stories about America in 2018.

The first story was a tweet from Boston Globe reporter Maria Cramer, who was there to witness the aftermath. According to Cramer, the woman was badly injured, her leg left “twisted and bloody,” but she still had the presence of mind to plead with bystanders not to call an ambulance. “It’s $3,000,” the woman reportedly said. “I can’t afford that.”

 

Her account of the story has since been retweeted more than 7,000 times, and it demonstrates how cruel—some might say uncivil—it is to have a system in which someone can go broke if they get hurt, or that at the very least the crushingly expensive cost of care is something you have to keep on your mind, even if your leg is smashed by a train. “This Tweet Captures the State of Health Care in America,” wrote the New York Times editorial board, reflecting on the heartbreaking story. Pretty much, yeah.

She was, ultimately, transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital. A police report indicates the 45-year-old woman did not break any bones but lacerated her leg badly enough that she will likely need surgery. For the record, the Globe reports that an ambulance ride will not set her back $3,000, as cost for that service typically maxes out at $1,200 to $1,900. MassHealth pays for ambulance rides, so long as the injured person meets certain qualifications. As for those with private health insurance, surveys show that few in this country have enough stashed away in savings to cover the cost of a deductible in a medical emergency. An accident—like, for example, tripping on the train—could mean a pile of debt even for the insured.

If you’re in need of some renewed faith in humanity, though, look no further than the fellow commuters who came to her aid. Apparently inspired by a viral story about a similar rescue in Australia, a group of them banded together to push the train away from the platform to help get her leg unstuck, then cared for her until help arrived. The Transit Police Department released video of the rescue on Monday.

See? There are still people left who can do the right thing.