What to do in a subway emergency

It wasn't the normal morning commute from Washington Heights to Harlem for Kelly Kopp. A video shows him and others making their way off the A train with the help of MTA workers after it abruptly stopped. But an hour before, Kopp and everyone else were panicking and fearing the worst.

People got their cellphone flashlights out to help. Others also tried to pry the door open. One man managed to kick a window open. Kopp said he managed to get out the window and into the tunnel.

It was smoky, but no fire. Kopp and others went to the end car and waited. Kopp said he was terrified.

Emergency officials say when you get on a train you should look for exits. Then if train makes an unscheduled stop, you should listen for announcements. But if no one makes an announcement, you should trust your instincts.

"Taking a deep breath and taking a couple of seconds to be calm, not to react or overreact instantaneously but get your head around exactly how serious if at all the situation happens to be," said Kevin Govern, an adjunct instructor at John Jay College's Department of Security, Fire, and Emergency Management.

But the MTA spokeswoman said that customers should never leave the train unless asked or accompanied by the train crew or first responders.

Yet Kopp said that he felt he needed to get off the train because the smoke made him think a fire might engulf the train. So he felt getting off the train was safer because it was a matter of life or death.