The Song 'Stayin' Alive' Just Saved This Subway Worker's Life

Sometimes a song is the best lesson.

Most subway workers who step on the third rail don't live to tell the story. Fortunately, Monique Brathwaite got to.

Brathwaite, a 35-year-old mother, took a job as a signal maintainer seven months ago. On Friday afternoon, her co-worker David Martinez saw her lying on the notoriously dangerous third rail that powers New York City's No. 1 train. 

"I was suspecting the worst," Martinez, 54, told The Washington Post. "There was smoke coming out of her hair. I said, 'She's dead.' ''

A 16-year veteran of the subway system, Martinez figured that Brathwaite had just become the one worker who dies on the tracks every year. In New York, workers perform maintenance while trains are still running and third rails are electrified, making the tracks far more dangerous than in most cities. But as Martinez looked at her body, it occurred to him that he could help.

Martinez remembered a Washington Post article about the District fire chief's program to teach everyday citizens CPR. In fact, A Plus covered a similar tactic: hands-only CPR, where you compress someone's chest to the beat of "Stayin' Alive," which has an ideal 100-120 beats-per-minute pace. 

After calling 911, Martinez began giving Brathwaite CPR. By the time firefighters arrived, she had convulsed and opened her eyes. They rushed her to Harlem Hospital Center, where she was put in a medically induced coma and, after being woken up Monday, was alert and talking. 

"Ms. Brathwaite was very lucky," John Samuelsen, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, told the Washington Post. "It's very rare that an individual has an accident, comes in contact with the third rail, and lives to tell the tale."

Unfortunately, Brathwaite is facing some consequences: she has third-degree burns on the left side of her body, nerve damage in her right hand, and she could be hospitalized for months. To help support her four sons — ages 7, 12, 16 and 19 — a GoFundMe Page has been set up. Brathwaite took the dangerous job for extra money.

Her oldest son, Jeremiah, is trying to get through college. Want to help? You can donate to her GoFundMe here

"She was really grateful," Martinez said. "She told me, 'Because of you, I'm alive.' I really feel good. It's a miracle she's alive."

(H/T: Washington Post)

Cover photo: Flickr

Here's a quick video lesson on the CPR technique Martinez used: