A Mississauga family is giving a heartfelt thank you to Peel first responders who jumped into action to save their drowning son’s life earlier this year.
It’s a story that the boy’s father, Rameen Danish, says is a reminder of just how lucky his family is to be in Canada — and of the life-saving work first responders do every day.
“Definitely God was there for him but if it wasn’t for the paramedics, the police, the fire, the doctors, he would not have made it,” Danish told CBC News, recalling what happened on May 22.
Danish had been at work when he got a phone call from his sister, telling him to come home as soon as possible.
‘There were so many questions’
“Arman has drowned,” he recalls her telling him. The three-year-old boy had been by the pool with his grandfather, and fell in when his grandfather had gone to the bathroom.
He was under the water for about three minutes before surfacing. His grandfather found him face-down, pulled him out and tried to get him breathing, while Danish’s sister called 911.
Danish himself rushed out of the office without saying goodbye to anyone. The 10-minute drive home felt like 10 years, he said. When he got there, police and paramedics were already racing away. Danish knew it was for Arman.
He feared the worst. “I was really scared … There were so many questions.”
When he got to the hospital, he says, 10 or 12 medical staff were working on the boy. Police officers were bringing Danish and his wife water, keeping them calm.
“They were really like our family,” Danish recalled.
‘He was fighting for his life’
For 16 hours, Danish waited, watched as his little boy breathed through tubes, and feared the worst. “I was basically preparing for a funeral,” he remembered.
His wife too was beside herself, reading from the Qur’an and praying for a miracle. At one point an officer suggested she take a moment to go have some water and use the bathroom.
As he stood in the room alone with his son, Danish’s mind travelled back to the day before, when Arman was happily playing in the park.
“You just want the moment to go back to what it was. You have all these memories and in a split second you see him in a different situation … I knew he was fighting for his life.”
Just then, he says, he saw his boy’s heart rate jump back to normal. Unsure what to make of it, he snapped a photo and called for a nurse.
When the nurses arrived, he says, they couldn’t believe it either. Arman’s condition seemed to suddenly be improving. A few minutes later, his eyes opened and he called for his father.
The next day, they were out of the hospital, Arman walking and talking “as if nothing happened,” his father said.
‘We’re very lucky’
It’s the kind of care Danish says he could have never dreamed of when he was growing up in Afghanistan. In fact, at just nine years old, Danish himself went through a traumatic situation, where the outcome could have easily been very different than what it was for his son.
An explosion sent him falling three stories to the ground, shattering parts of his legs. Metal plates still hold the bones together.
But Danish says in Afghanistan, you not only have to worry about getting the care you need, but if you can afford it.
“Whether you’re going to make it to a hospital, it’s a question. Do you have the money to pay for it? It’s a question. Can you actually get there?”
They’re questions Danish says he never has to think about in Canada.
“We’re very lucky… You can’t take stuff like that for granted,” he said.
When it was all over, Danish made a point of making sure the first responders knew what it all meant to him and his family.
“I told them, you guys have really won our hearts … I think we need to praise them. We really need to give them credit for that,” he said.
He also says he plans to make sure Arman knows about the men and women who saved his life that day, and how lucky he is. And he hopes one day his son grow to do something as heroic as they do every day.
“I want him to know what happened to him. God was on his side but other people were involved in saving his life.”
And as for that line between life and death, he says, what happened to his son is a reminder of just how thin it really is.
“As thin as one hair,” he said.