52 Division officers help save lives
Consts. Michael Tanguay and Marc Bagchus were on patrol in the Grange Park neighbourhood at around 3 a.m. when the call came in for an overdose in the area of Spadina and Baldwin.
“Though we weren’t in the same car, we got there at the same time and went into the second floor of the rooming house,” said Bagchus. “The front door was open, so we went straight upstairs.”
The officers arrived before the Toronto Paramedic Services and Toronto Fire.
“When we got into the room, the woman was on the floor lying on her back,” recalled Tanguay who joined the Service a decade ago. “There was a gentleman in the unit who was administering CPR on her. He was the one that was communicating with the call taker before we got there.”
Tanguay and Bagchus took over from the man and rotated doing CPR.
“I could tell that the woman’s lips were blue and her eyes were fixed,” Tanguay said. “At the time, I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a drug overdose.”
Paramedics arrived on the scene nearly three minutes after the officers.
“We did our best to keep her alive until they showed up,” said Bagchus who has been on the job for seven years. “We are happy that we got there quickly and did what we had to do.”
Shortly after leaving the scene, Bagchus responded to a call for a female in the water at Harbourfront Centre.
Consts. Chally Phan and Ivan Yeung, who both joined the Service six months ago, were riding together around 4.30 a.m. when they received an unknown trouble call at Harbourfront Centre.
“The information we got was that a female was in the water and she was unconscious,” said Phan. “When we got there, we saw a man who identified himself as security waving his arms frantically at us. We got out of our car and sprinted as fast as possible to the dock where there were four young men reaching down, trying to hold on to the woman’s arms.”
Yeung said the female was unresponsive when they arrived.
“Just her head was above the water and I guess the males had thrown her a life-saving device before we arrived,” he said.
When the men lost grip of the female, Yeung took off his gear and jumped into the water.
“I used to be a lifeguard, so I am fairly confident in my swimming ability,” he pointed out.
Consts. Elyar Babayev, who turned up at the scene after Phan and Yeung, also jumped into the cold water to assist his colleague.
“She was unresponsive and her eyes were closed,” he said. “When we checked her, she had a pulse and was breathing very lightly. The Marine Unit showed up about five minutes later at which time we had to swim with her for about 10 metres to get to their boat. They helped us to get her out of the water.”
This is the second time in a year that Babayev, who was an Auxiliary member for three years before becoming a uniformed officer in 2019, has performed a water rescue.
While training at the Ontario Police College, he saved a Toronto Police recruit during the water-based safety training.
“Somehow, he lost his strength at the end and went to the bottom of the pool,” said Babayev. “I immediately jumped in and pulled him out. Everything worked out well.”
Bagchus, who followed the ambulance to the hospital, found some humor during the rescue.
“There was a very large spider on the back of one of the four guys who was trying to keep the woman afloat before we got there,” he said. “We didn’t say anything for fear that he might have let her go. Had it not been for them stepping up, the call for help might not have been made.”
Platoon S/Sgt. Jeff Alderdice complimented the officers’ actions.
“Two lives were saved on the same evening solely because of their superior work and dedication to duty,” said the veteran officer who was deployed in Afghanistan in 2011 as part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) International Police Peace Operations program that ended six years ago and is one of two active Service members (S/Sgt. Mike Leone is the other) to be awarded the Medal of Honour which is the Toronto Police Service’s Board highest award for distinguished acts of bravery. “It is very important that the public is reminded of the selfless acts that police officers perform daily.”