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Ely student recognized for heroic act

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 9, 2021

Submitted Photo Carter Christenson poses with his baby sister, Annie, and a certificate he received from the Rugby Volunteer Fire Department for saving her from choking.

What began as a disappointing Halloween for 12-year-old Rugby resident Carter Christenson ended with an experience his family would never forget and recent recognition for heroism from the Rugby Volunteer Fire Department.

His mom, Mary Christenson, recalled the events that unfolded after her son learned he couldn’t go out trick-or-treating with his friends.

“My son just found out he had to start quarantining,” Mary Christenson said. “He had been planning to go trick-or-treating with his buddies. He had just turned 12. So, he had to cancel his plans and stay home with his little sisters.”

Mary Christenson said Carter and his sisters, Ellie, and one-year-old Annie, were in the living room of their family home north of Rugby. Christenson went into the kitchen to make supper. The children’s father, Charles Christenson, was away from home at the time.

“All of a sudden, Carter started screaming, ‘She’s choking! She’s choking!'” Christenson said of Carter. “By the time I got to the living room, he had his baby sister upside down, pounding on her back. I was standing right next to him, and he pounded two more times. She took a breath and started breathing again.”

“If he wouldn’t have been home, who knows how long she could’ve been choking,” Christenson added, taking a deep breath.

“It was really hard for him to miss Halloween but yet he saved his sister’s life,” Christenson said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”

Carter Christenson said, “I feel like a hero.”

Carter said he’s still amazed when he thinks about how he saved his baby sister from choking.

“My sister, Ellie, was eating chips in the living room and my younger sister grabbed ahold of one but she wasn’t old enough to eat a chip so she choked on it,” Carter said. “I could tell she was having a hard time breathing. She had a little frightened look on her face.”

“So, my mom was in the kitchen, so I had to do something about it. I went over to her and started pounding on her back. Before my mom got in there, I got the chip out,” Carter said.

“I was pretty scared,” he added. “She was very young.”

Carter said his mom was “surprised I didn’t tell her. I did tell her, when I was pounding on Annie’s back,” he added, noting, “Everything happened fast.”

“Mom was surprised,” Carter said of his quick action. “Not many kids do that.”

Carter received recognition in mid-December from the Rugby Volunteer Fire Department.

“My mom told me I should contact the EMS or fire department to see if they give awards,” Mary Christenson said, adding she spoke with volunteer firefighter Andy Hallof, whose son plays hockey with Carter. “He set it up so firefighters came out in a fire truck and gave him a hero award for his bravery.”

“It was a surprise,” Carter said. “The fire department came and gave me a T-shirt and an award.”

Carter said his shirt bears the fire department’s insignia. The certificate he received notes “his heroic actions and showing of incredible bravery.”

Carter is a sixth grader at Ely Elementary School. “I like math and I like social studies,” he said.

After his heroic act, Carter said he’s thought of a career in the medical field someday. “Maybe I could be a doctor or something,” he said.

Carter said he’s also thinking about taking first aid and CPR classes in the future.

“He’s just a blessing to have in our lives,” his mom said. “When he puts his mind to something, or something needs attention, like somebody’s in trouble, somebody’s choking, he’s Johnny on the Spot. He takes charge.”

“When the fire department came out to give the award, they were so wonderful,” Christenson said. They really made it into something special for him. The smile on Carter’s face was great. I knew he knew that what he did was important. It was great to see him smiling like that.”

“Even young kids can make a difference,” she added.

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