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Student saves her brother’s life after learning CPR in school

By Lynne Marsala Basche

When Dakota Wadsack, a sixth-grade student at Sage Canyon Elementary, noticed her 7-year-old brother Jordan choking on a piece of hard candy and he was unable to breathe, the young girl leaped into action and used the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training she learned while in third grade through an innovative program offered as part of Sage Canyon’s physical education class.

The harrowing scene unfolded in July when Dakota and Jordan were visiting their grandparents in Arizona, and the group went hiking in the Coconino National Forest near Sedona. When Jordan began choking, Dakota performed the Heimlich maneuver, and after three thrusts, the candy became free and her brother began to breathe again.

“I was really nervous while attempting the abdominal thrust and after,” said Dakota. “I didn’t have time to think about it. I just reacted.”

As part of their physical education class, Sage Canyon students learn first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillation (AED). Dakota learned CPR during her third-, fourth- and fifth-grade years, and this repeated training allowed her to recognize and assess the situation and act quickly.

It is unusual for an elementary school to offer first aid, CPR and AED classes, but with the support of his administration, including Principal Mandy Hill, P.E. instructor Lance Schoenwald became certified to teach classes and offer the life-saving lessons.

Asked about the emotions he felt after learning about Dakota’s heroic actions, Schoenwald said, “proud, happiness, joy, and relief there was a happy ending.”

Dakota was presented with a lifesaving medal by the Sedona Police Department during a ceremony for her and her family. Additionally, via a letter to Hill from police Chief David W. McGill, Sage Canyon Elementary was commended for teaching children life-saving measures at such a young age.

Lifesaving emergencies happen unexpectedly, and thanks to lessons learned from Sage Canyon Elementary, students, and in this case Dakota and Jordan, can speak to this fact first-hand.

Read more about Sage Canyon Elementary’s first aid, CPR and AED program by visiting and searching “Sage Canyon” to see our January 2016 article.



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