LAMP Employee Saves A Life
April 25, 2019
Zario King was walking to work when he noticed something unusual in the bushes just before 7 a.m. Feb. 7.
“I saw like a figure … slumped over,” he said.
It was dark, cold and snowy, and as King got closer to the bushes near Birmingham and Fifth streets in south Etobicoke, the “figure” became clearer: it was a man lying on the ground unconscious.
“I was trying to get the person’s attention, and they weren’t responding,” said King, 27, a harm reduction worker at nearby LAMP Community Health Centre. “A needle was next to him.”
The man wasn’t dressed for the cold: he wore a hoodie, jeans and a jacket that was zipped down with a T-shirt underneath.
King moved the man’s hoodie and saw his face. He recognized him; the 41-year-old homeless man had been attending LAMP’s adult drop-in program.
King ran into LAMP’s drop-in centre, grabbed a naloxone kit and returned to the motionless man.
“I didn’t hear any breathing. That’s why I decided to check the pulse quickly and (he) was extremely cold to the touch,” King said.
Next, King called 911 and administered the naloxone spray, which is used to block the effects of opioids.
“When I did, he started to breathe a little bit. It was very shallow, but he did start to breathe,” King said.
King’s 911 call triggered a tiered response with police, fire and paramedics rushing to the scene.
Const. Becky Rochon and her partner got dispatched for “a person who possibly overdosed and was unresponsive” near the LAMP drop-in centre.
The constable said King was standing by, directing firefighters to where the overdose victim was, when she pulled up with her partner. “I went and spoke to him and got the story,” Rochon said, noting the victim was still unresponsive.
Paramedics arrived shortly after. “The gentleman was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, though, it was not only the drug overdose that they were dealing with but … (his) super cold (body temperature),” Rochon said, adding the man needed to be intubated to “assist his breathing” and was given heat packs to warm his body.
The man, who overdosed on heroin, eventually regained consciousness and recovered.
Rochon said King’s quick actions “definitely” saved the man’s life.
The officer nominated King for a police commendation.
“He went out of his way, was aware enough in noticing this guy. … Most people wouldn’t be that aware,” Rochon said. “He did a great job and is definitely a great asset to that community and to LAMP.”
On April 14, King was among dozens of citizens recognized for their “unselfish acts of bravery” during a ceremony at Toronto police headquarters.
“I don’t really like people calling me a hero or using the term because I really did not do much,” King said in a recent interview. “Hopefully, I did what any other person would do.”
Also among those recognized was Kiranjit Singh Uppal, who stopped a vehicle that was being driven erratically in north Etobicoke on Nov. 3.
Police said Uppal spotted a vehicle that was being driven in a dangerous manner and managed to attract the driver’s attention, getting him to stop. Uppal spoke with the driver, who appeared impaired, and removed the keys from the vehicle.
“Uppal remained on scene with the keys and maintained visual contact with the driver until police arrived,” police said in their summary of the incident. “Uppal then handed over the keys to police and gave them a brief description of what he had observed.”
Officers investigating the matter determined that the motorist was diabetic and that his blood sugar had dropped to a dangerous level, which made him appear intoxicated. Police took the motorist to hospital for treatment.
“If the driver had not been stopped and had passed out, there would be a great risk to the public,” police said.
Claude Charbonneau, Lloyd Linton and Marius Baciu were also recognized for helping an officer from north Etobicoke’s 23 Division apprehend a fleeing suspect on July 31.
Police said the officer was investigating a vehicle at a gas station and subsequently became involved in a foot chase with its driver.
Charbonneau and Linton were in the area and saw the chase. Charbonneau drove up to the officer and asked if he needed help. “The officer accepted and got into the rear seat of Charbonneau’s vehicle,” police said. “Charbonneau drove beside the fleeing suspect until he stopped running.”
The officer then got out of the vehicle and arrested the suspect. Charbonneau and Linton stood by until backup arrived, and they also provided a statement to police.
Baciu was also in the area and saw the fleeing suspect toss an item over a fence during the chase.
Baciu showed the responding officers the exact location of the discarded item, and a quantity of powder cocaine was recovered as a result.
by Andrew Palamarchuk
Andrew Palamarchuk is a reporter with Metroland Media Toronto and toronto.com. He has been covering the crime beat since 2002 and has a passion for giving a voice to those affected by tragedy and looking at societal issues that may have contributed to it.
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