Have bus riders in Los Angeles become so jaded and antisocial that no one thinks to help a passed-out woman with vomit running down her chin for almost an hour-and-a-half?
The Eastsider L.A. reported yesterday that Echo Park resident Jamie Goodwin boarded one of the L.A. Department of Transportation's “Dash” buses on Monday afternoon, only to find an “African-American woman with a walker” slumped in her seat.
The most disturbing part of Goodwin's testimony:
Goodwin and the other passengers exchanged alarmed glances as the driver of the northbound bus that runs between Echo Park and Pico-Union allowed passengers to board through the back door to avoid contact with the unconscious woman, who had vomited on herself. “I was looking for signs of life from this woman, wondering how long this had been going on,” said Goodwin, who grew upset after the driver said she had reported the unsconsious passenger to her dispatcher about two hours earlier and was awaiting assistance
LADOT spokesman Bruce Gillman says the wait was more like an hour-and-a-half.
The bus driver originally called the dispatcher around 2 p.m., says Gillman — and when help had not arrived by 3 p.m., the driver called the dispatcher again. According to L.A. Fire Department spokesman Matt Spence, paramedics arrived at the Dash turnaround at 3:22 p.m.
So the question remains: Why did it take the bus dispatcher so long to call 911? (And why did the Fire Department take around 20 minutes to show up, but we think we know the answer to that one.)
MV Transportation, Inc. is the company contracted by LADOT to run that particular bus line. Public-relations officer Cristina Russell tells us that the dispatcher indeed works for MV, and “employees involved” have been placed on administrative leave while the company launches an internal investigation.
What's the fine for leaving a woman to possibly die in her bus seat? (Although she didn't, and is recovering at the hospital.)
$1,200 for “not timely reporting” and “a safety violation,” says LADOT's Gilman. He adds that “every contract has what's called a penalty provision … giving the city an opportunity to impose a fine.”
Bus rider Goodwin told the Eastsider that she was actually the one to call 911, but LADOT maintains that the MV Transportation dispatcher did eventually summon paramedics as well.
Still — an hour and a half? What if the woman had experienced a heart attack, or a stroke, or something more life-threatening?
“Yeah, we weren't happy with that,” says Gilman.
No kidding. And as for the rest of the commuters on that ride: Next time you notice an unconscious lady in the seat next to you, how about giving L.A. some Good Samaritan points by taking two seconds to call an ambulance. Because we're kind of in the red right now.