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Unsung Hero: 10-year-old Cub Scout saves life of friend who was choking

This is Unsung Heroes, a Bryan on Scouting blog series celebrating under-reported acts of Scouting heroism. These are stories that don’t make national headlines — but should. That’s doubly true in this world that can always use more good news. Read the latest story below, and find instructions for sharing your own Unsung Heroes story at the end of the post. 


Matthew Dewey never expected he’d need to use the lifesaving techniques he learned in Cub Scouting. But then again, who does?

Matthew, a 10-year-old Webelos from the BSA’s San Diego-Imperial Council, was playing outside during recess when a friend came running up.

The friend, Carter (pseudonym), was pale, sweating and holding his throat.

Matthew asked Carter if he was choking and received a thumbs-up in response. (Note: The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat, but not all choking victims know this.)

After giving five unsuccessful back blows, Matthew stood behind Carter and gave him one forceful upward abdominal thrust.

A piece of hard candy shot out of Carter’s mouth, and Carter was then able to talk and say he was OK.

For his quick thinking — and for using the exact method he learned while earning the Webelos First Responder adventure — Matthew was nominated for the Medal of Merit.

Share your Unsung Heroes story

Stories like these brighten my day — especially because I know this kind of thing happens regularly in Scouting.

Here’s how to share the news of an Unsung Hero in your pack, troop or crew:

  1. Send an email to me with the subject line “Unsung Heroes.”
  2. Include a detailed summary of the heroic act.
  3. Include any “supporting documentation” you can. Examples include links to a story in your local newspaper, paperwork for a Scouting heroism award nomination or eyewitness accounts.
  4. Include high-res photos of the Unsung Hero.

Thanks to Doris McCarthy, advancement chairwoman in the San Diego-Imperial Council, for the blog idea.

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