51 Minutes Later
Below is an e-mail we received tonight from a mother who wishes to remain anonymous. I edited the text screenshots together to make it easier to read, and removed the physical description of the woman involved (not relevant).
I’d like to remind everyone we are not journalists and we’ve never claimed to be. We’re bloggers, we share things. This kind of thing would normally be shared on our social media directly, but with all of the information and screenshots, laying it out here seemed like a better alternative.
There’s a TLDR at the bottom.
The E-mail And Texts
A terrifying situation on Calgary transit occurred today and I think it’s important for Calgarians to be made aware of. To help educate people on the Calgary Transit Watch Program.
This afternoon I received frantic texts from my teenage Son who was on the train heading downtown to work. There was a woman on the train who was intoxicated (or possibly on hard drugs) and was threatening to stab everyone on the train. She was screaming and getting into everyone’s faces. Pacing throughout the train car.
**Yes, I am aware that this is a common occurrence in this city nowadays. A seemingly unspoken rule for the general public here is to ignore, not make eye contact, and hope your destination is close.
I recalled seeing a post on Crackmacs Facebook page about Transit Watch Program that is for reporting safety concerns discreetly by text. My Son didn’t feel safe pushing the emergency button on the train and had asked me to alert transit.
As difficult as it was to be calm and keep the text messages constant with my Son, I managed to get as much information as possible from him whilst simultaneously texting transit a play by play of the situation. After the longest 19 minutes, the train pulled up to City Hall station where officers were waiting. Thankfully no one was physically injured.
I think it’s important for people to understand that this new text messaging feature with transit can help, but I’m also pointing out a potentially critical flaw.
Note the times of the texts in the screenshots attached. I didn’t receive any response from Calgary transit until much later when the incident was resolved. All of the information, description, train number and current locations of said train were all a crucial part of effectively reporting the situation in order for the authorities to respond accordingly.
What if someone who is in direct distress is too panicked to think to continue texting more specific information and is just waiting for a reply?
From my understanding, this program was launched with the intent to help Calgarians discreetly report immediate concerns. If pressing the help button isn’t an option due to safety issues, it’s important for transit riders to have this service. It’s equally vital for this service to effectively work. Hopefully this is not a reoccurring theme for future incidents that sadly are now commonplace in this once beloved city.
Crackmacs: why didn’t you call 9-1-1?
I was anticipating that question and yes I absolutely regret not calling 911. I think this is all a great example of how one person can be overwhelmed by the urgency of a situation. Needing to respond quickly with some form of action. Whereas the norm for most is to avoid and ignore. Not everyone is able to think clearly during situations like this. I just reacted. Having the text service in mind during this panic led me to use the transit texting system for my Son while trying to keep communicating with him. Obviously the better choice would have been to call 911
This service is so important for the city and people should be more informed about it. See something, say something. Well sadly people don’t communicate effectively at times, or at all.
Making phone calls while texting is not something I’ve ever had to do before and come to think of it, am not entirely sure how to. But you can be damn sure I’m going to learn now.
A woman on a train was threatening to stab everyone. A passenger texted his mom, she contacted Calgary Transit through their text service. The information she sent DID make it to them and they sent out Peace Officers and found the woman, however no response came from Calgary Transit for 51 minutes, long after the situation was resolved.