Community Heeds Call to Duty

Faced with her first life-or-death crisis, Lifeguard Wen-Ching Liang summoned all the CPR training she had received to save a life.

While on duty at the Columbus Centre on the morning of June 26, 2013, the City of Toronto and YMCA employee noticed a 17-year-old motionless in the indoor pool’s deep end.

“He was in about eight feet of water and I immediately dove in and removed him from that part of the pool,” she recalled. “He was not breathing, so I shouted for somebody to call 9-1-1 while I performed CPR, and was able to revive him on the sixth cycle. By the time EMS arrived, he was breathing again.”

This was the first time Liang had performed CPR on the job.

“We do a lot of seasonal and annual training, but this was the first time I got to do the real thing on someone in a desperate situation,” she said.

Two months after the incident, the teenager and his family returned to the centre to thank Liang for saving his life.

“They were very emotional and the mom was crying when we met,” she said.

Liang was among 79 community members recognized with awards for their unselfish acts of bravery and courage at Toronto Police headquarters on April 27.

A man holds a framed certificate
Correctional officer Mark Robinson helped investigators identify a sexual assault suspect
A man in TPS uniform stands beside another man holding a framed certificate
Deputy Chief Mike Federico and Musab Usman

Tom Dillon and his family were returning home after attending his nephew’s funeral, earlier in the day, when they saw a man lying on the tracks at Yorkdale subway station.

“People were pointing at him and asking for help, so me and my daughter just jumped down and pulled him up on the platform before a train came by,” recounted the 51-year-old.

Along with his wife, Terri and daughter, Kaitlynd and Kerry Morrison and her boyfriend, Anthony Ali, they performed first aid on the victim who had suffered a serious head injury that was bleeding profusely.

Superintendent Sam Fernandes, 32 Division unit commander, recommended the group for the award.

“The heroism they displayed in putting their lives at risk to save someone is commendable and they are indeed worthy of this honour,” he noted. “What they did was simply amazing.”

Musab Usman was working at his Etobicoke home, late at night, when he heard gunshots around 3 a.m. on February 4, 2013.

“I went to my balcony and saw two men running away to a junior public school nearby, so I called 9-1-1,” he explained.

An officer dispatched to the scene saw a man loitering in a nearby alcove. When the suspect saw the cop, he fled on foot. The officer saw a loaded semi-automatic gun lying in the alcove.

Officers located the suspect a short time later in a nearby park and made an arrest.

“I was surprised when I got a call saying that I would be given an award for helping police to catch the suspect and take a gun off the street,” said Usman, who attends George Brown College. “It feels good to be recognized.”

The moment Mark Robinson saw a composite sketch of a man police were looking for, in connection with a sexual assault at a city bar on June 12, 2012, he had an idea who the suspect was.

The alleged perpetrator was sitting in a cell on unrelated charges at the Toronto West Detention Centre where Robinson is a corrections officer.

The suspect, on immigration hold at the time, was charged and handed a 20-month sentence. At the end of his prison term, he was deported to Nigeria.

“I figure I was in the right place at the right time and everything worked out just great,” said Robinson, a corrections officer for the last 14 years. “I obviously helped out the victim and her family by getting an arrest and some closure.”

One man in TPS uniform standing with two men and two women holding framed certificates and one other man
Deputy Chief Mike Federico, Tom and Terri Dillon Kerry Morrison, Anthony Ali, Kaitlynd Dillon and TPSB Chair Alok Mukherjee Photo: Alice Tham

Deputy Chief Mike Federico thanked the honourees for helping police make the community safe.

“These awards represent acts of selflessness, personal contribution and personal courage at the considerable risk of personal safety,” said Federico. “We ought to be proud of those who have made these contributions and also proud that we live in a society that generates this kind of community participation… We literally cannot do our job without this kind of participation from the public.”

Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee said the award recipients are extraordinary community members making admirable contributions to preserve the safety of their neighbourhoods.

“As we honour and thank members of the community for their acts of selfless bravery, caring and compassion, we are reminded that there are many good people in our city, people who care and are prepared to go the extra distance to demonstrate this,” he said. “Through their actions, they give meaning to the idea that we are each other’s keepers and when it comes to building a safe community, there are no bystanders or spectators.

“…Each of the individuals being honoured today rose to the challenge and did what was necessary to prevent death, an injury or a crime or to support a good cause. Through their quick thinking, their keen observations, their compassion and their persistence, they helped to capture suspects, solve crimes, and assist people in need and even save lives.”

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