Main Content


Local First Responders Honor 8-Year-Old Boy for Saving Sister's Life

By DAVID BUTCHER, Correspondent | April 09, 2021 | PENNSYLVANIA

Story No. 040921115

HAZLETON, PA - Eight-year-old Jaxson Dempsey was recently honored by the City of Hazleton Fire Department and others for saving his 19-month-old sister's life. Jaxson credits knowing how to do the Heimlich maneuver from watching a Nickelodeon show featuring WWE superstar John Cena a year ago.

Jaxson was with his father, Matt Dempsey, when they picked up his 19-month-old sister from pre-school and stopped at a McDonald's drive-thru for lunch. As they were driving to an appointment, Jaxson heard his sister Leila making chocking sounds and immediately jumped into action performing the Heimlich maneuver on her. Jaxson screamed for his mother and father to pull over and after doing the maneuver three times, the chicken nugget popped out of Leila's mouth.

McAdoo Firefighter Richard Kott heard about the boy’s heroic actions and put together a parade and award ceremony. He stated that when he heard of this, he knew that something had to be done to honor the young man.

Firefighter Kott contacted each of the departments in the surrounding areas and got them all together to do a parade in front of the boy’s home. The City of Hazleton Fire Department and Police Department, along with the Borough of West Hazleton, Hazle Township, McAdoo, Tresckow, Beaver Meadows, Harwood Fire Company, Valley Regional Fire and Rescue, and Lehigh Valley Health Network EMS all drove by the boy’s house with lights and sirens blaring.

Jaxson stood with his father as they waved at the firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel. Firefighter Kott presented Jaxson with an award for saving his sister's life. In addition, Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat presented Jaxson with a Proclamation from the City, and State Representative Tara Toohill presented him with an award from the State of Pennsylvania. The Freeland American Legion also presented Jaxson with an award for his heroism.

After Jaxson's story went viral, his hero, John Cena, also sent him a video taped message. Jaxson was asked at one time what he wanted to be when he grew up and he proudly said he wanted to be a firefighter.

The parade was held on Wednesday, March 31st, and the award ceremony at the Freeland American Legion was held on Friday, April 9th.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.