While driving a friend home in the early hours of April 8, Daniel Khan was drawn to a bright-red glow in a house on Poplar Rd. in Scarborough.
“At first, I thought it was a Christmas tree lighting up a room but, when I glanced over again, I realized it was a fire,” he said.
While on his phone calling 9-1-1, the living room bay window exploded. He gave the location and rushed into the home.
Upon entering the house, Khan and Sean Davis – his friend – saw two women standing in the kitchen.
“They were dazed, confused and coughing because the smoke was thick,” Khan recounted. “I grabbed the older woman and the other lady clutched her hands and we were able to exit the house. When I asked them if there was anyone else in the building, they told me there were two males in the basement.”
Khan and Davis broke down the side door to gain access to the basement.
“The men had no idea what was happening when we approached them and I told them that we had get out quickly,” he said. “By the time we got back upstairs, the smoke was really intense.”
Khan and Davis were recognized for their heroic acts with Toronto Police Service Community Awards on October 23.
For Khan, driving by the house almost daily brings back memories of the night he and his friend rescued four people.
“The fire was bad, but what was even worse was that the lady told me she had sold the house and the closing was 10 days away,” he noted. “That was really sad.”
Constable Michael Robertson, of 43 Division, attended the awards to again thank crisis worker Crystal Howell and registered nurse Albert Reyes for coming to his and his partner’s defence while they were guarding a violent male patient in a hospital’s emergency department on April 20.
The accused, who had his hand restraints removed to allow him to eat lunch, suddenly smashed the ceramic plate on the bed railing, causing it to shatter. He was able to grab a large piece of the broken plate and used it to start cutting his own throat.
During the violent struggle, one of the officers received a gash to his hand.
“Because I work with the crisis team, I respond to a lot of emotionally disturbed people,” said Howell, who sustained a bruise to her arm. “This was, however, one of the most chaotic events and I am so happy we were able to get things under control.”
Reyes, who also required medical attention for a cut on his hand, was the nurse taking care of the patient.
“Everything happened so quickly,” he recounted. “Everyone responded well though.”
Robertson is convinced the nurses averted a major disaster.
“If it weren’t for them, things would have been a lot different,” he said.
A city family is eternally grateful to teenager Rashidah Quaye for saving their son’s life.
Disembarking from a streetcar in the late-evening hours last April 27, the 15-year-old was shocked when she saw a young boy wandering on a busy city street.
“It was around 9:30 and I remember seeing a car zooming by and this boy was running towards the traffic,” recalled the Earl Haig Secondary School student. “I ran after him and pulled him safely onto the sidewalk. I don’t think he was scared because he really didn’t know what was happening.”
She took the four-year-old boy, who was in his pyjamas, to a nearby pub where he was reunited with his parents who were frantically searching for him.
A total of 32 citizens were recognized for unselfish acts of bravery and courage.
Chief Mark Saunders thanked the community members for their heroic acts he says represent the best of citizenship in Toronto and Canada.
“We have citizens at the right moment at the right place who did the right things,” he said. “…It’s a proud day for me, as Chief, because it reminds me of the great citizens we have, why Toronto is so safe and why we exist so well together. It is because we do care about one another and today we get to celebrate that.”
Representing the Toronto Police Services Board, Ken Jeffers acknowledged the recipients for acting in the best interest of the community.
“Our board is inspired by your contributions,” he said. “Community engagement and community partnerships are evident here today.”