Human Interest

When asked if he was a proud grandfather, Phil Wadsack paused, smiled and said, “You bet I am. Very proud.”

That pride came following an event that had a happy ending but one that could have ended in tragedy. Wadsack’s grandchildren — 11-yearold Dakota and 8-year-old Jordan — were visiting Wadsack and his wife in Sedona from Colorado.

During a hike on July 11, he gave Jordan a small piece of hard candy to keep his mouth moist. As they were walking along the trail Jordan began choking on the candy.

“Before I even realized what was happening, Dakota already had her arms around him,” said Wadsack, a Sedona Police Department volunteer. “She started the Heimlich maneuver. She did it once and nothing happened. Then she did it two more times and the candy came out. I was amazed with how quickly she did it — without giving it any thought.”

As Dakota explained, “I was talking to my grandpa when I looked over and saw Jordan with his hands on his neck. I ran over and started helping him. Afterwards I said, ‘Wow, I was actually able to do it.’”

To honor her heroics, SPD Chief David McGill led a short ceremony at City Hall in which more than 50 city employees, members of the public and representatives of the Sedona Fire District were on hand.

“You’re a hero — you know that, right?” McGill asked Dakota. “This doesn’t happen very often but we have a hero with us today.”

McGill presented Dakota with a hero medal and told her it was something she should wear with pride for what she had done. Jordan was presented a ribbon while both were given stuffed animals.

“I said, ‘Thank you for saving my life,’” Jordan told the audience.

Dakota said she learned CPR in the third grade and she and her fellow students practiced it on a regular basis during physical education class.

McGill said he planned to write a letter to the school praising them for their efforts in teaching their students lifesaving measures.

After the ceremony, Dakota said she was surprised and appreciated so many people coming for the ceremony.

“It was very exciting,” she said. “I felt like the center of attention.”


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