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Safety on the TTC: how to respond in an emergency

WATCH ABOVE: A man fell onto the tracks Wednesday evening at College subway station. Marianne Dimain reports.

TORONTO — An altercation on a TTC platform took a terrifying turn Wednesday when a man was pushed onto the subway tracks at College station. People rushed to his rescue, but the Toronto Transit Commission cautioned that there is a right way and a wrong way to respond in an emergency.

Whatever you do, don’t jump in after the person, said spokesperson Brad Ross from the Toronto Transit Commission.

First thing, have someone alert a TTC employee. Then, look for a blue light at either ends of the platform, where you’ll find the emergency power cut cabinet.

“At both ends of the platform you’ll see a blue light, and at that blue light station is an emergency power cut button,” said Ross. “Push that button. That will cut the power to the third rail.”

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The electrified third rail carries hundreds of volts that could seriously hurt or kill a person.

READ MORE: TTC considers dash cams and GPS technology

The TTC said unintentional falls onto the tracks are rare, but there have been fatalities in the past.

In 1997, 23-year-old Charlene Minkowski died after she was pushed into the path of an oncoming train at Dundas station. A man who suffered mental health issues was later convicted of murder.

The TTC has a number of safety measures in place for passengers.

There is a designated waiting area on each platform. The areas have extra lighting, and indicate where to get on a train to be near an operator, for people who might feel their safety is in jeopardy.

Each waiting area contains an intercom and payphone. For people having suicidal thoughts, the payphones have a direct-dial button that connects callers with trained counsellors at the Distress Centres of Toronto.

When it comes to putting up physical barriers, the TTC said it’s just not in the budget.

READ MORE: Platform barriers proposed to curb suicides at TTC subway stations

“Certainly preventing people from descending to track level, that’s clearly a life saver,” said Ross of the barriers. “But they’re very very expensive.”

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In Wednesday’s circumstance, the train heading for the platform was alerted in time and stopped before entering the station. The man who ended up on the tracks suffered minor injuries.

Police said an investigation is underway, but confirm it was not a random incident.

“It’s a dispute between two men that are known to each other,” Toronto police Const. Caroline De Kloe. “It’s not a random attack and there’s no danger to public safety.”

With files from Marianne Dimain

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