Blog Post #445 – Operator Evades Attacker

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

The operator of a light-rail transit vehicle, in Calgary, escaped harm when a knife-wielding man took a run at him in the early hours of January 4, 2010.

An emergency button was activated in one of the C-Train’s three cars at about 1:25 am, prompting the driver to ask what the problem was, says Brian Whitelaw, coordinator of public safety and enforcement for Calgary Transit. A man responded that the button had been pressed accidentally, so the operator stopped at the next station and exited his cab to reset the emergency phone, Whitelaw says.

Heading to the centre car, the operator was charged by a man with a knife. “He received quick direction from the control centre with Calgary Transit to get back in his cab and barricade himself in until help could arrive,” Whitelaw says. It does not appear the man attempted to breach the operator’s cab.

The suspect was seen walking along the street to the next rail station and, while standing on a platform there, was approached by officers for both Calgary Transit and the Calgary Police Service.

After taking out a knife, waving it in front of himself and ignoring demands to drop the weapon, a police spokesperson says a conducted-energy device was successfully deployed. The suspect was then taken into custody.

John Marleau, 22, faces three counts of assault with a weapon and one count each of possession of a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and causing a disturbance.

Calgary Transit will undertake a detailed review of the incident to determine if changes to existing safety procedures are warranted, Whitelaw says.

“New-generation” vehicles — equipped with on-board monitors so operators need not leave their cabs, as well as video cameras that enhance image resolution — are already being put into service, he points out.

My opinion

Right across Canada, employers are being told, by legislation, that the workforce must be better protected. Here we find a security system that monitored the issue and offered better protection for the operator. The passengers are also better served since the operator would be protected long enough to call for aid. Without the system in place, I wonder how much this problem would have been out of hand.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Violence and Harassment’ as well as ‘Due Diligence’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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