Fighting Commuter Fear and Loathing

Photo by paulmcdee

Do you experience fear and loathing during your commute? (Man, it’s a Hunter S. Thompson week here at the Red Cross!) I was squished into a three-seater on the bus this morning then came into work and saw this article from the Tribune’s Josh Noel. He describes the discomforts of being jammed into a rush-hour train, but things get interesting as he moves on to a topic that’s nearer and dearer to my Red Cross heart—commuter safety.

“A simple truth became clear: The “L,” central to so many lives, is a nexus of big-city anxiety, precisely because it is central to so many lives.”

People have anxiety in the “L” and other places because they fear the unknown. Wouldn’t these folks feel a little bit comfier if they were ready to respond to an emergency? Indeed, the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. As commuters on the CTA or Metra, we should know what to do if the train derails, or how to react if you’re stuck in a crowded car. (The first answer is clear: Listen to directions.)

There are other ways to fight this “paranoia”. Get trained (pun intended). If someone collapsed next to you on the bus, would you know how to help them out? (Read about a guy who wasn’t ready, and it changed his life.) Taking a CPR or first aid course gives you an arsenal of emergency-fighting skills—lifesaving skills that can calm people if something scary happens.

A quick, easy way to start is to buy one of our personal safety tubes—perfect for commuters and only five bucks. It has a mask, water, a whistle and a light stick—little things that could be a big comfort if something does go down. Not that it’s going to, my paranoid friends, but just in case.

-Kristin Claes is a writer at the Greater Chicago Red Cross. She’s often seen on the North Ave. bus looking for our This is Not a Disaster ads.

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