Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fasting Women Cause Slowdowns on NYC Subway

Sometimes when you read a news story you immediately do a double-take. That's how I felt when I saw this story yesterday in the daily newspaper AM New York. The story notes that the third leading cause of delays on New York City's massive subway system is "sick customer," the transit agency's euphemism for a delay caused by passenger illness.

And one of the largest causes of these delays? Female passengers fainting on trains during the morning rush hour, specifically because they had been fasting to lose weight to squeeze into tight, revealing outfits for the warm weather or vacations to tropical climes. The study, conducted by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (the agency that oversees the running of NYC subways and buses) covers the period from October 2000 to October 2005.

In the article Asim Nelson, an emergency medical technician working at Grand Central Station, says that he has treated a number of passengers who admitted that skipping meals had led to their fainting spells. Six major NYC subway stations are equipped with medical teams.

Nelson said that last month he treated five passengers in one morning who had fainted while on the subway. Nelson mentioned that while illnesses seen on the subways range from flu symptoms to anxiety attacks to heat exhaustion, they don't compare in number to the fainting spells seen in patients who skip meals.

Perhaps passengers on crash diets should wear warning stickers on their clothing cautioning passengers that they might keel over in the middle of their journey. At least then fellow travelers could be alert to the possibility of imminent collapse so that they can help prop passenger up--or maybe out of the way.

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