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Quick-thinking TTC worker saves life of man in distress

FAIZA AMIN | posted Monday, May 1st, 2017

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Tense moments at Dundas subway station led to service being suspended both ways on Wednesday morning, when a man reportedly jumped onto the track. Dozens of witnesses were on the northbound platform around 10:30 a.m. when the incident occurred, many praising a quick-thinking TTC employee who sprang into action.

The Transit Commission tells CityNews a customer entered the station and immediately walked onto the northbound tracks. Within minutes, JP Attard, rushed to the man’s side to comfort him.

“I didn’t know the cameras were flashing, I just jumped an instinct,” the 55 year old said. “As long as he was okay, we saved another life.”

“He just kept talking to him, and said, ‘Breathe in; breathe out’ and ‘Look me in my eye,’” said witness Jeffrey Ribeiro. “Then he was like, ‘Now say, I am strong.’ Then he had everybody on the platform say it with him.”

Ribeiro captured the touching interaction between the two men in a video he later posted online. The footage shows Attard seated on the platform comforting a man who is firmly holding onto him, while standing on the track.

“I said to him, I’m going to be your friend, I’m going to be your mentor, and it’s going to be okay,” Attard explains. “I looked him in the eye and told him I loved him.”

His colleagues also stepped in, cutting the power and suspending subway service in both directions.

“When he came up off the platform and came towards the TTC worker, the TTC worker gave him a great big hug,” Ribeiro recalls. “He’s like, ‘Where’s your cellphone? Let me put my number in it.’”

Attard, who’s been with the transit system for 24 years, is being praised for how he handled and de-escalated the tense situation, hugging, comforting and befriending the man. He stayed with him even after emergency personnel arrived, spending over half an hour with him.

“The biggest positive action that we saw today was my employee going above and beyond his training and staying there with the customer to ensure he was safe, and everyone else was safe,” said Ellen Stassen, group station manager with the TTC.

In these situations, the procedure for TTC employees is to secure the premises, cut the power and alert the authorities. Many witnesses were calling for Attard a hero for going above and beyond what his job requires him to do.

“People like this need to be recognized, and the TTC needs to recognize him for what he did,” said Ribeiro.

“People like this need to be recognized, and the TTC needs to recognize him for what he did,” said Ribeiro.

Mayor John Tory did just that on Thursday morning, one day after CityNews at 11 aired the story.

“He helped someone at what clearly seemed to be one of their lowest points,” the Mayor said during the council meeting on Thursday. “I think we’re all very glad he was there, not just there in the booth but took the initiative to go down and do what he did.”

But Attard rejects being called a hero.

“I aint’ no hero, I’m just John Paul,” he said. “TTC stands for Take Total Control and I want to make management proud, and make this whole world proud.”

“This is not the first time I stopped somebody from committing suicide,” added Attard.

With the TTC seeing two dozen suicide attempts and 12 deaths annually, employees are trained to look for any sign of distress. In all incidents, trauma counselling is offered to the workers.

Following the incident, the TTC employee went back to work and finished his shift.

“This is the best ideal story that we can present and commend him for not only an act of safety, but an act of compassion, customer service,” said Stassen. “It goes beyond one area of recognition, and it speaks volumes of his colleagues as well.”

If you or anyone you know is in distress, you can reach out to the 24/7 crisis support line at 416-408-4357 (HELP).

 

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