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Stranded on Mass Transit

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For more than 36 hours, hundreds of Amtrak passengers were stranded on a train stuck in deep snow in Oregon.

The train was originally bound for Los Angeles from Seattle when it became stuck in the small town of Oakridge, Oregon after hitting a tree that had fallen on the tracks.

According to passenger Emilie Wyrick, “We’ll move for a few hundred yards, then we stop. It’s going to be like this for hours.” The stranded train was surrounded by several feet of snow with crews working overnight to clear train tracks so the train could slowly move.

According to Union Pacific, who owns the Oregon rail line, “The train had been inoperable due to weather conditions and downed trees.”

After being stuck on the train for almost two days, the passengers arrived in Eugene, Oregon where they were provided food and met by dozens of reporters. Amtrak Executive Vice President Scot Naparstek said the company decided leaving passengers on the train was the safest option.

Naparstek told media outlets, “With local power outages and blocked roads, it was decided the safest place for our customers was to remain on the train where we were able to provide food, heat, electricity and toilets.”

Many passengers passed the time by playing cards, sleeping, and making new acquaintances. With the help of heat, power and food, a passenger said the mood on board had remained surprisingly upbeat even though passengers were stuck with no way to get off the train.

The thing is, whether you are stranded on a train, plane, or bus, there is no doubt that it can create panic and anger among the passengers.

However, it sounds like the folks stuck on this train for over 36 hours did a pretty good job of staying calm considering they had no way to leave. With that being said, here are some things to consider if you ever find yourself stuck on any type of mass transit.

Claustrophobia/Panic. When most people think about claustrophobia, they think of being stuck in small places. However, many people suffer from claustrophobia or a panic attack when they simply are unable to escape or get out of a particular area.

If you are stuck somewhere and you or someone nearby begins having a panic attack, the first thing you should do is the old trick of having them breath into a paper bag. This actually works because you are re-breathing your own air.

If you don’t have access to a paper bag, have the person who is panicking place their hand on your chest and tell them to breathe in the same pattern as you.

Have an escape. Even though the folks above were stuck on a train surrounded by feet of snow, they still needed to have a way to get out. What I mean is, if a fire broke out or something terrible happened, you need a way to get out, even if it’s in the snow.

You should always know where the nearest exit is and have a back-up exit in mind, even if it means breaking out the nearest window. In addition, take note of any fire extinguishers, first aid kits, or any other type of safety devices that could be useful.

Heat or A/C failure. If the air conditioning dies, your only option may be to get comfortable, remove any extra layers of clothes, and find something stiff to fan yourself with. If it’s safe to do so open any windows you can to create airflow.

If the heat goes off while you’re stuck in the dead of winter, it’s time to make some friends and gather together for warmth. Move everyone into the smallest area you can and add any insulation or layers to your clothes and to the area you are gathered in.

As I mentioned, when people are stuck in an enclosed space, it’s easy for tensions to flare, so don’t forget to make sure your tactical pen is on you at all times in case you are forced to defend yourself.

In addition, if a passenger is getting out of control plan ahead with ways to subdue them in case you have to step in with other passengers to prevent one person from going crazy.

Survey other passengers and think about who could potentially step up and assist you if you are forced to take action to protect fellow passengers.

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