The message comes after police said a passenger pushed the alarm to complain that a fellow rider “smelled,” briefly bringing train service to a halt on part of Line 1.
Const. David Hopkinson told Global News the incident happened on board a train at Queen subway station happened on Thursday at around 7:40 p.m. He said the details of the call were shared on Twitter in the hope of raising public awareness about the misuse of the alarm system.
“It’s a teaching point now. ‘Hey, I know you’re uncomfortable. You have absolutely every right to complain, but using the passenger assistance alarm is not for that,'” Hopkinson said.
“The alarm is for emergency use and this type of incident is not considered an emergency … With passenger assistance alarms, we assume that it’s an emergency — somebody is having a medical episode, their life is in danger, they’re being attacked, there’s some kind of accident in the station.”
Although TTC personnel cancelled the call to emergency crews when they arrived at the train car, the alert strongly affects the ability for those crews to respond to an emergency.
“So three-tiered response is automatic, meaning police, fire and ambulance. It’s an emergency response and the highest level we have,” Hopkinson said.
He also said it’s protocol for the train to remain at the station. As a result, subsequent trains will have to stop and there were be broader delays on the subway line.
According to TTC rules, misuse of the emergency alarm can mean a significant fine. It’s unclear whether the individual who activated the alarm was given a penalty.