Code red and a code green response


On Friday, Sept. 9, the news hype machine was in full gear screaming NYC is in lockdown — Code Red, a possible car bomb. The emergency response teams were highly visible around Manhattan, so I assumed that we were prepared for any kind of emergency.

Around 9:30 p.m., I took a cab Uptown from the Lower East Side to view the Richard Hambelton art opening at Phillips de Pury, 450 Park Ave. South at 15th St. There must have been 500 beautiful people crammed shoulder to shoulder, who all somehow looked the same. I got lucky; I saw Richard, took a couple of photographs and had to make an exit from this glitzy madness.

I took the 6 train Downtown. Around 9:55, as the train pulled into the 14th St. Union Square station, an announcement came over the PA system that the conductor was looking for any passengers who could handle a medical emergency. No big deal. I sat on the train and waited. When it didn’t move, passengers got off. I got off. Then a few cars away I saw firemen, a rookie cop and some civilians attending to a man on the floor. I would guess the fallen white man was around 30 years. He was wearing what looked like the kind of blue scrubs one sees hospital workers wear. He appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness, obviously in need of medical attention.

The firemen and civilians had done everything they could to stabilize the man. There were just a few people standing around, no drama, and the young rookie cop had the situation under control. Time passed, and passed and passed. A fireman walked back to the staircase and looked up. The conductor was on the radio. Finally around 10:20 p.m., the ambulance crew showed up. By 10:30, the man was strapped to a chair and on his way to the emergency room.

The emergency response team was doing all they could, but somehow the chain of command seemed to be off. Instead of a car bomb, it was a man lying on the subway floor who needed emergency help and the system broke down. No question that the man was ill. I hope he survived. Bloomberg seems to be more show than go.

Richard Hambelton (with bowtie), well-known Downtown artist, making a comeback with a large retrospective at Phillips de Pury during Fashion Week.