Rescuing innocence: Abdullah moments after rescuing the child Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: Firefighter Abdullah Badhan Al Subai became an instant hero in Saudi Arabia after a picture of him carrying a small boy wearing his breathing mask to safety was widely circulated on the internet.

Bloggers and online users heaped praise on the Saudi national and lauded his courage and his selfless act to save the child from a fire that gutted the apartment in front of their own flat in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

“We have just performed our duty and we thank God everybody is safe,” the firefighter said. “We heard there was a fire at a building in Al Rihab neighbourhood and we rushed to the area. As we were dealing with the blaze, we discovered that the heavy smoke made its way into the apartment across from the one where the fire erupted. I entered the flat and saw a child gasping for breath in a smoke-choked room and needed to be evacuated promptly,” he said, quoted by local news site Sabq on Tuesday.

Abdullah said that he took off his mask and gave it to the boy to help him breathe.

Protocols did not allow sharing air, but for the firefighter was determined to save the child’s life.

“I helped him with the mask as I could not accept that I was breathing almost normally while he was having smoke inhalation problems. It is my duty to help and serve and if God willed me to die, so be it,” he said.

The firefighter said that he carried the boy to the Red Crescent where paramedics looked after him and provided him with pure oxygen.

Blogger Al Ghareef called for a promotion for Abdullah to motivate other firemen and service people in the Saudi kingdom.

“Thank you for your efforts. You are a real hero who gave a shining example of the loyal men in the service of the country,” Al Ghareef posted. “Abdullah should be honoured and promoted because of his exemplary love for the country and work.”

Dreamer, another blogger, insisted that Abdullah deserved to be recognized for his sense of sacrifice in times of adversity.

“It is obvious that we still have real heroes ready to sacrifice for the beloved homeland,” Dreamer posted. “I wish I could meet you so that I would kiss your head in respect and appreciation.”

Blogger Alyabis commended Abdullah for his courage and lauded his parents for his upbringing.

“May God bless you. I only wish that the other servicemen at the civil service were as dedicated as you are,” Alyabis posted on the Sabq website.

However, another blogger, said that Abdullah broke the rules.

“Thank God, the child and the fireman are safe. However, the firefighter was wrong when he gave his breathing mask because he could have suffocated and caused his own death and that of the child,” Bakhraiba said.