Citizen reporter discovers rookie hero

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Our lives can be changed in an instant due to circumstances well beyond our control. Complete strangers can be brought together in ways we could never imagine.
Such was the case for three complete strangers last Saturday morning. The story below describes an incredible situation, a dramatic rescue, an amazing tale of three lives that became intertwined in a flash.
The experience that Linda Toulch had can best be described as once-in-a-lifetime. Had it not been for Linda’s acute or chance observation on that fateful morning we might never have known of the bravery of rookie police officer Rafael Bealieu.
And even more amazingly, the life of a struggling individual could have ended within seconds had it not been for the miraculous intervention by this would-be rookie cop hero.
Hats off to Linda, citizen reporter,  for doing her part in telling this amazing story. Chapeau to officer Bealieu for his quick thinking, rapid response and bravery in the face of endangering his own life which saved the life of this helpless, sinking victim.  And thank goodness that this unnamed victim, in her own car on a Montreal street will have these two wonderful people, Linda and Rafael to remember in such a remarkable way for the rest of her hopefully healthy and less-eventful life.

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Montreal rookie cop “a hero” says woman who witnessed flash flood rescue

Montreal police Const. Rafael Beaulieu, left, and partner Simon Lavoie outside police station 26 on Monday July 10, 2017. The Montreal police constables made a dramatic rescue on Victoria Ave. Saturday.
Montreal police Const. Rafael Beaulieu, left, and partner Simon Lavoie outside police station 26 on Monday July 10, 2017. The Montreal police constables made a dramatic rescue on Victoria Ave. Saturday. PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE

“I didn’t want to be filming a death. I just couldn’t take that.”

It was 6:30 a.m. Saturday, the rain was still coming down and Linda Toulch had tried to call 911 to tell them what she had seen from the window of her 10th-storey condo moments before — a car travelling along Victoria Ave., stopped by traffic beneath an underpass, waiting for the light to change. But as it waited, water began to cascade into the underpass, accumulate and rise.

Toulch had stayed on the line with 911 for a few minutes before hanging up after getting no reply. She presumed the emergency call centre was getting swamped with calls related to the torrential rains that were hitting the city as a system of thunderstorms rolled through Montreal. And so, picking up her iPad, she joined her husband at their window and began to record what was happening on the street below.

She recorded as the waters rose past the vehicle’s tires, then approached its trunk. She recorded as a Montreal police car pulled up at the water’s edge and two officers exited the vehicle. But as it became clear the car wasn’t going to move because its engine had been flooded and, with it, any power to open the windows to let the driver escape, as it became clear the vehicle was on the verge of being completely submerged, Toulch stopped recording.

“I didn’t want to witness a drowning so I just put down the iPad,” she said. But as she did so, her husband, watching the scene through a pair of high-power binoculars, told her: “Look what’s happening now.”

What happened was one of the two Montreal policers who had pulled up to the underpass took off his gun belt, handed it to his partner, grabbed his baton and jumped into the waters slowly engulfing the car.

“(The police officer) didn’t think the water was going to be over his head,” said Toulch. “My husband could see his expression. He was like shocked, he almost went under. But he came back up, swam over to the car.

The officer who headed into the water, 23-year-old Const. Rafael Beaulieu, a police officer only since May, said Monday he and his partner Simon Lavoie only noticed the woman’s predicament by chance.

“We were heading for an assignment downtown when we saw cars doing U-turns on Victoria Ave.,” he said. “When we saw what was happening (in the underpass), the first thing we did was block off the road with our squad car.”

Beaulieu said he could see the female driver in the back seat of the car and called out to her before swimming toward the vehicle. He then used his baton to smash in the rear window of the vehicle and hauled the woman out. In the end, the only injury recorded was the one he suffered.

“She couldn’t swim and she was holding onto my bulletproof vest pretty tight,” he said. “The water was so high I couldn’t touch the bottom, so I grabbed onto the edge of the (broken) window. I cut my hand, but it was minor.”

Handing the woman over to his partner, Beaulieu made sure there was no one else in the car before returning to relatively dry land.

Once Urgences-santé arrived and the paperwork was filled out, both officers returned to the station, showered, changed uniforms and then returned to their assignment downtown.

Despite the fact she was 10 storeys above the rescue, Toulch was so impressed by Beaulieu’s actions that when 911 finally called back to ask why she had called, she told the operator what she had seen.

“He could have been swept under the car, that glass could have cut his face … I said, ‘The policeman is a hero, and he should be rewarded with a medal.’”

After being put in touch with Montreal police, Toulch repeated her praise for the officer and sent them the video she had recorded on Saturday. On Monday, she and her husband paid a visit to Beaulieu at Station 26, which serves Côte-des-Neiges West, to thank him.

“I figured you hear so many negative things about the police,” she said. “This is a feel-good story.”

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How will we recognize police without clown pants?

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Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Police who continue to sport camouflage pants on duty could face fines of $500 to $3,000 for each day they wear them under new legislation proposed by the Liberal government, reports the Montreal Gazette.

After three useless, sad years of vandalism of police cars (and fire trucks and ambulances with union stickers) and wearing camouflage and clown pants, the government has finally awoken to put an end to this lawless fashion flap.

I said early on that it was not fair to claw back on pensions that were already agreed to and that any changes ought to affect new officers or else be renegotiated within their collective agreements.

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Montreal Police in camouflage pants (Photo: McGill Daily)

 

Forget that there are so many police officers earning in excess of $100,000 per year and the time-and-a-half pay for standing at intersections pushing traffic buttons, three times the going rate for trained civilians. These folks put their lives on the line, after-all, to protect us and deserve to be reasonably well paid for doing so. And they normally deserve our respect and appreciation.

But, their protest have gone much too far. Three years were three years too long.

They also should have no right to deface their patrol cars. Same for the firefighters and Urgences Santé ambulance technicians. This is public property and no one has the right to cause such damage without penalty. If you did it you’d be held accountable. Why not them?
These public safety professionals have caused immeasurable harm to their own brand. They have lost respect from the public they serve. People laughed at first the they ignored the outlandish uniforms altogether. How sad.
What kind of a message was that for our children? Shameful, I say.
And the proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough. What about the cars and trucks and ambulances?  What about our firefighters and ambulance techs? And what about our local public security forces? Hopefully these folks will finally understand it’s time to pull up their pants – their uniform pants – and start off their next shift while putting their best foot forward. It’s time to earn back the respect they lost.
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Montreal Police officers in “clown” pants. (Photo: Canoe.com)

 

Read my previous posts:

Police and firefighters should wear their own pants

Painting fire trucks black endangers the public

Police warn all citizens of jewelry thefts in public spaces

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Free Press | Aug. 30, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Free Press | Aug. 30, 2016 | Click to enlarge

URGENT: Jewellery Theft Alert from Police Station 9 – Appel à la vigilance

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montreal_police_car

Montréal, August 25th 2016– The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) would like to warn all citizens to exercise caution in order to prevent the theft of jewellery being perpetrated by con artists in public places.

THIEVE’S METHOD

  • The thief acts alone or as part of a group.
  • The thief uses false pretences to get close to you (talks about a deceased family member, asks for the way to the hospital, asks for the time).
  • The thief then offers you a piece of jewellery of no value.
  • The thief comes in closer to get you to try on the jewellery.
  • At the same time, the thief steals your valuable jewellery without your knowledge.
  • The theft is not noticed until later.

 

PREVENTION TIPS

  • Travel in a group whenever possible.
  • Hide your valuable jewellery until you reach your destination.
  • Refuse a gift from a stranger and do not let that person come close to you.

 

RESOURCES

If you are a victim of fraud or theft, or if you think you might be, immediately contact the following resources for help:

Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) – 911

Elder Abuse Help Line: 1-888-489-2287

Tel-Aînés: 514-353-2463

Canadian Anti-Fraud Center: 1-888-495-8501

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Appel à la vigilance pour prévenir le vol de bijoux

plus particulièrement les personnes aînées

 

 

Montréal, le 25 août 2016 – Le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) fait appel à la vigilance des citoyens pour prévenir le vol de bijoux par des arnaqueurs dans des lieux publics.

MÉTHODE UTILISÉE PAR LE VOLEUR

  • Le voleur agit seul ou en groupe.
  • Il utilise différents faux prétextes pour approcher la victime (parle d’un membre de sa famille qui est décédé, demande le chemin de l’hôpital, demande l’heure).
  • Il vous offre ensuite un bijou qui n’a aucune valeur.
  • Il s’approche de vous pour vous faire essayer le bijou.
  • Au même moment, il subtilise à votre insu vos bijoux de valeur.
  • Le vol n’est remarqué que plus tard.

 

PRÉVENTION

  • Privilégiez de circuler en groupe.
  • Cachez vos bijoux de valeur jusqu’à leur destination.
  • Refusez le cadeau d’un inconnu et ne le laissez pas s’approcher de vous.

 

 

Si vous êtes victime d’une fraude ou d’un vol, ou pensez l’être, n’hésitez pas à contacter les ressources suivantes pour obtenir de l’aide :

 

 

 

Theft from vehicles continues to be a problem

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Free Press | May 24, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Free Press | May 24, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Alleged ‘grandparent’ scammers busted after elderly couple catch the scent of fraud

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Free Press | May 24, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Free Press | May 24, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Railway fire and explosions rock Cote Saint-Luc in Tabletop Exercise

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Emergency service leaders, city service directors, elected officials and community partners ‘raced’ to Cote Saint-Luc City Hall’s Emergency Operations Centre Thursday morning for a mock rail disaster. The exercise was coordinated by Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson in conjunction with Montreal Agglomeration’s Public Safety Centre.

The live action exercise included Montreal agglomeration police and fire services, Urgences Santé ambulance services, CP Police, West-Central Montreal Health, Federation CJA’s community security branch along with all services in the city of CSL.

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson oversees the Emergency Operations Centre

The scenario involved an overnight train derailment that resulted in a fire and explosion, just east of the Westminster underpass, affecting 250 residents requiring immediate evacuation. Water and electricity was cut off. City personnel established an evacuation centre at the aquatic and community centre on Parkhaven at Mackle. Reichson gave orders to all service directors to huddle and coordinate with their first responders and personnel.

As city councillor responsible for emergency preparedness I can attest that it is evident why CSL is renowned for its level of readiness. The ongoing training, testing and preparing are well worth the investment in time and resources.

Police Commander Jean O’Malley confers with Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. Executive Assistant Tammy McEwan keeps tabs on all decisions.

In this mock scenario I served as official spokesperson for the city in partnership with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, and neighboring municipalities and boroughs. A mock press conference was set up to inform our residents.

Several issues arose for the members of the Emergency Operations Centre to deal with on an urgent basis including diminished air quality, wind direction, sheltering of animals, providing kosher and non-kosher food, evacuation of mobility reduced residents and babies, registering residents willing to take in evacuees, distribution of drinking water and more.

Director Jordy Reichson consults with Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen

Participants dealt with a spreading power outage affecting the whole city. Traffic lights were out. Expectations were two days to restore all to normal.

The three hour scenario demonstrated the participant’s ease in dealing with unraveling urgent situations and in collaborating around the table to ensure the safety of our residents. Discussions, swinging back and forth effortlessly in French and English, flowed smoothly and in a spirit if great cooperation.

Montreal Fire Department Division Chief Martin Ferland and Police Commander Jean O’Malley update the leaders in the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Operations Centre

Cote Saint-Luc residents can take pride in knowing that their emergency, city and community services along with mayor and councillors hold these exercises from time to time and place such a high priority in testing their skills and readiness. Through these exercises improvements and adjustments can be made, professional skills developed and relationships enhanced to be well prepared for the real deal.

On behalf of our residents, thank you to our dedicated leaders around the tabletop mock disaster. Your commitment to emergency services and to our residents and community is exemplary and greatly appreciated. Thank you to Sid-Ali Talbi of Centre de sécurité civile de Montréal and CSL Public Safety Chief Philippe Chateauvert and kudos to Jordy Reichson for his leadership in orchestrating a successful demonstration and return to normalcy for our city.

Councillor Ruth Kovac and I have been involved in emergency preparedness in Cote Saint-Luc for 36 years. I was involved in EMO in the 1987 floods and we both participated in leading city services in the 1998 Ice Storm and in preparation for Y2K. We’ve taken part in many exercises over the years and we were very impressed in how these leaders came together to deal with a sudden, life-threatening crisis in a calm and professional manner.

We’re in good hands in Cote Saint-Luc!

For more information on emergency preparedness in Cote Saint-Luc and to learn what you can do to better prepare your own family please visit the CSL Emergency Preparedness page here or GetPrepared.ca.

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