Scout uses his Heimlich training

Some quick action by a local Boy Scout is being credited with saving the life of a friend Sunday evening.

Brayden McAfee, 11, of Newport had joined Boy Scout Troop 501 in February, and over the last two months his Scoutmaster and grandfather, Terry McAfee, had been teaching the troop basic first aid, tourniquet tying and how to use the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim.

“I knew I might be able to use that training sometime in my life, but I never thought I would need it so soon,” Brayden said during a phone interview Monday.

His mother, Jamie McAfee, said Brayden and three other children were playing outside during a visit with some friends in the Newport area around 6 p.m. Sunday when Brayden suddenly burst into the house, shouting “Steven…Steven!”

“He looked so petrified, I knew something was wrong,” Jamie said.

She said Brayden had brought some hard candy to share with the other children. But one of the youngsters, 7-year-old Steven Smith, began running with a jawbreaker in his mouth and had sucked the candy into his windpipe.

“He couldn’t say anything and was gasping for air,” Brayden said. “I was scared out of my mind.”

Remembering his Boy Scout training, Brayden wrapped his arms around Steven’s middle and gave him a couple of gentle squeezes.

“I didn’t want to break his ribs or anything,” Brayden said.

After three unsuccessful tries, he laid Steven on the ground and struck the youngster on the chest.

“Then the jawbreaker popped right out, and he began coughing,” Brayden said. “He was still conscious. If he had been unconscious I would have started CPR.”

He ran back into the house, followed closely by a red-faced Steven, who grabbed a drink of water.

“We asked Steven if he was all right, but he just said he was OK and asked if they could go back outside and play,” Jamie said.

Steven’s mother, Ashley Francis, said both boys were “freaking out” when they first came into the house.

“It really scared me, I was terrified. And Brayden looked like he was almost in tears,” she said. “I’m so thankful he knew what to do. And I’ve told my children time after time not to run with anything in their mouths.”

Francis said Steven was doing fine Monday night, thanks to Brayden. She added that her son had hopefully learned a hard lesson about running with candy in his mouth.

“Needless to say, he hasn’t had any hard candy today,” she said.

Brayden said he’s glad he was able to remember his grandfather’s training and encourages other young people to take the time to learn some lifesaving skills.

“You just never know when something like that might happen,” he said.

Jamie said scouting is almost a family tradition, noting when Brayden becomes an Eagle Scout in a few years he’ll be the 12th family member in several generations to earn that honor.