Bronze medal in heroism

[attach]1047[/attach]Some might argue it takes a brave soul just to venture onto the Don Valley Parkway in rush hour traffic, let alone head off a runaway vehicle swerving across its lanes at high speed. Luckily for Toronto drivers, just such a person exists.

Constable Mansoor Ahmad of Toronto Police Service’s 33 Division received the Royal Canadian Humane Association’s bronze medal for bravery from Lieutenant-Governor David Onley for his daring efforts last winter to reign in a rogue vehicle on the highway after its driver was rendered unconscious.

“I don’t have words to describe how I feel,” said Ahmad. “I feel very lucky.”

Ahmad’s not the only one who should feel lucky. While giving out a ticket on the DVP near York Mills at around 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 4, a motorist stopped to notify him that there was a gold Toyota Echo swerving erratically all over the highway.

“It was going Southbound on the DVP, hitting the guard rail and the side rail — it was a real hazard. It was around 9:30-10 o’clock in the morning, so there was a lot of traffic,” said Ahmad.

After radioing for help, Ahmad caught up with the vehicle and saw the extent of the danger.

“The car was badly damaged. I had to act because the car was moving from lane to lane, hitting the central median … traveling at considerable speed. And I realized that ‘I have to stop this car’,” he said.

Putting on his siren, Ahmad followed the vehicle closely to keep other traffic from getting near.

“Drivers sometimes amaze me because they see a police cruiser moving back and forth from lane to lane and they see the sirens on top and they were still rushing to pass me, trying to get to their destinations,” said Ahmad.

Finally pulling up next to the car, Ahmad saw the situation was really bad.

“I couldn’t see anybody and both air bags were deployed and it was all smoke inside, so my other concern was weather the car was going to catch on fire.”

Reacting, Ahmad positioned his cruiser in front of the Echo, touching bumpers and slowly applying the brakes until he was able to bring the runaway car to a stop. He then turned his attention to the inside of the vehicle.

“The door was jammed because of extensive damage to the front end. I had to pry the door open. I saw the guy — he was slumped over to the passenger side and foaming from his mouth.”

The man had suffered an apparent seizure, the result of a medical condition, which had caused him to loose control of the vehicle.

“He was unconscious, but he still had a pulse. I called dispatch to get me an ambulance. By the time help came, I had successfully removed the guy from the car and turned off the ignition.”

Had he not acted, any number of people could have been seriously injured. However, Ahmad said he doesn’t think of himself as a hero.

“When I first received the letter I thought someone was joking with me,” he laughed. “Every police officer in the service would do what I did. Some of them get recognized and some of them don’t get recognized,” he said.

Still, this isn’t the first time Ahmad has been recognized for his efforts on the job.

In 2004, he received a commendation for his part in disabling an armed man who was trying to break into Woodbine Junior High School. He was also given the Chief’s Excellence Award for his part in organizing a relief effort to send supplies to victims of an earthquake in India in 2005.

But even if he doesn’t consider himself a hero, he has at least a few fans — his wife and three children attended the award ceremony with him.

“My son tried to tell me he’s gonna beat me by getting the silver medal,” said Ahmad. “It’s a great honour to wear that medal on your uniform. It says bravery and my family’s very proud.”

Ahmad is to receive another award for his service to the community on Dec. 2 at police headquarters.