A Malian immigrant may have a new job with the Paris fire department, and an official new nationality. Parisians have already taken Mamoudou Gassama to their hearts after his brave, reckless rescue of a toddler hanging off a balcony in the 18th Arrondissement. Instead of waiting for help to arrive, Gassama instead climbed up four stories on balconies to recover the child, who gamely held while two different men attempted his rescue:
A young Malian man was hailed a hero on Sunday after he sprang into action to save a four-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony by single-handedly scaling the facade of the building and hauling the youngster to safety. Without a thought for his own safety, Mamoudou Gassama took just seconds to reach the child in a spectacular rescue captured on film and viewed millions of times on social networks. …
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the child had already been rescued.
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman told AFP.
It’s amazing to watch, even to the extent of testing belief. How did the child hold on long enough to be saved? How did Gassama get up their so fast? He told reporters later that he was focused on getting there in time rather than thinking his actions through. “Thank God I saved him.”
Others are more focused on thanking Gassama. French president Emmanuel Macron invited him to meet at the palace, where Macron pledged to normalize his immigration status and urged him to apply for citizenship. He also did a little recruiting for the Paris FD:
France will give residence papers to an illegal immigrant from Mali who scaled the facade of a Paris apartment block to save a boy who was about to fall from a fourth-floor balcony, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday. …
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo praised Gassama’s heroism and said the city will support his effort to settle in France. Macron told Gassama he hoped he could “meaningful” job in the country.
“What you have done corresponds with what firefighters do; if this fits your wishes, you could join the firefighters’ corps so that you can do (such acts) on a daily basis,” he said. …
“I replied that his heroic gesture was an example for all citizens and that the City of Paris will obviously be keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” Hidalgo said.
Macron has some political interest in this. First, he’s following the natural impulse of politicians to publicly associate themselves with heroes, a tradition that dates back to the beginning of politics, if not the beginning of heroes. More specifically, as Reuters notes, Macron has just toughened immigration and refugee laws, a point which might come up in the wake of Gassama’s heroics. Better to get ahead of that than to play catch-up later. Even apart from that, though, Gassama’s amazing actions speak for themselves. Who wouldn’t want someone with those instincts and selflessness in their community? The more the merrier. Macron’s no dummy.
That leaves one question: How did the toddler get in that predicament in the first place? Police want to know that, too. Reuters also reports that the father of the toddler has been arrested on suspicion of parental neglect. He’s lucky it didn’t turn into negligent homicide.