Hortonville boy receives Citizen Lifesaving Award
By Scott Bellile
An eighth-grade student earned a rare Hortonville Police Department Citizen Lifesaving Award for, as the plaque bestowed upon him states, exhibiting “outstanding efforts in a crisis situation.”
Hortonville Middle School student Dylon Holsten was recognized before the school board for his quick thinking last spring that saved a choking classmate’s life.
“We all have the individuals that we refer to as heroes, and it takes a lot to put a person on that pedestal,” Hortonville Police Chief Mike Sullivan told the board Monday, Sept. 12. “But when somebody saves another person’s life, whether it’s CPR, Heimlich Maneuver, just any day willing to put themselves out there like Dylon did, I refer to him as my hero.”
Holsten told the Press Star that a few weeks before the end of the 2015-16 school year, he and a friend were eating lunch when the friend began to choke on food. He said at first the two thought little about it and even joked a little.
The friend then left for the bathroom without seeking help.
“When people are choking, it’s not what you see on TV,” Dylon’s mother Sabrina Holsten, a certified nursing assistant, explained. “It’s very subtle, usually a cough, and most people get embarrassed and get up and go to the bathroom.”
“You get terrified because you’re losing your function of survival, so you take off because you think, one, you can solve it yourself, two, you don’t want embarrassment,” Sullivan further explained. “It happens where they’ll find someone slumped over a chair [dead] or somebody who was afraid to give the universal symbol of choking.”
Holsten took off after his friend. Holsten said his friend was coughing but nothing was coming up. There was nobody else in the bathroom.
Holsten remembered a three-minute talk his mother gave him a couple weeks earlier about the Heimlich Maneuver. He applied what he learned and freed his friend’s airway.
Ari Holsten, now a sixth-grader, said last school year HMS Principal Steve Gromala called her brother out in front of the student body. Most expected he was in trouble. They were proven wrong.
“There’s probably no finer young man at HMS than Dylon,” Gromala told the board Monday. “… He’s maturing, he’s hardworking, he’s dedicated and he’s caring. And the caring definitely came out last year when he gave the Heimlich to one of his fellow classmates in eighth grade. And it was a scary day. I remember that day very vividly and just how concerned we were for the young man in particular that Dylon helped.”
Sabrina Holsten said she’s happy her son paid attention to the warning signs.
“I was very proud of him, extremely proud that he took it upon himself to make sure his friend was OK,” she said.