A reader shares his story:
I once jumped off the platform to help someone. It was about 15 years ago, give or take. Lower Manhattan 2 and 3 train; probably the Park Place station. An older woman lost her footing and fell down onto the tracks. There was the headlight of a train in the tunnel but it was quite far away and not at all an imminent threat. The platform was crowded with people. I jumped down immediately and so did one other guy. People on the platform closest to the train entrance waived their arms to signal the train driver, who very easily stopped before entering the station.
Half of the woman's scalp was hanging off of her head; I flipped it back over so it was in place and covering the wound.
She couldn't get up, so the other guy and I told her just to lay there still and wait for more help. We waited with her; no one was very near the third rail. The police arrived fairly quickly and joined us on the tracks. I told a police officer about the woman's scalp wound, since it was no longer clearly visible. The cop yelled, screamed, and swore at me, telling me essentially that he knew what he was doing and he didn't any of need my help. He put his face right up to mine as he screamed and snarled in anger. That's the part I remember the most – the thanks I got from the NYPD. (I'm happily living on the West Coast now.)
I certainly didn't feel heroic; I just automatically tried to help. I don't know what I would have done had the train been closer, but I'm sure that if it had been very close I couldn't and wouldn't have done much.
Earlier coverage here.