Josiah Grove relied on skills learned in Christian leadership program Trail Life USA when 20-month-old Ezra began to choke to death
NEWARK, OH.—Teenager Josiah Grove is being heralded a hero after a classroom lesson turned into life-and-death drama when he used the first aid taught at boys organization Trail Life USA to save his young brother.
Josiah, 15, calmly grabbed choking 20-month-old Ezra, flipped him upside down and copied the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver he had learned to dislodge pieces of banana that had wedged in the youngster’s throat, blocking his air passage and threatening to asphyxiate him.
Josiah had been taught the intervention a few weeks earlier as part of first aid badge training at Trail Life’s OH-0148 troop, which meets at Community Church in Newark, Ohio. The faith-based organization is an outdoor adventure, character and leadership program for boys and young men, K-12.
“Ezra probably would have choked to death if Josiah had not been there and known what to do,” said mom Lisa Grove. She was washing her hair in another room at the family’s Newark home when daughter Rachel, who was watching Ezra, began to scream for help.
By the time Lisa got to the scene, Josiah was holding his young brother over the trash can in the kitchen and striking him between the shoulder blades, as he recalled. “It was scary,” Lisa said. “Ezra had turned blue.” Thankfully, Josiah’s prompt action made Ezra cough up what had been stuck, and he was soon breathing normally again.
“His face started turning purple,” recalled Josiah, whose father, Bryan, is a local pastor. “I knew when he wasn’t coughing that something was wrong.” While people have applauded his quick thinking and calm manner on social media, as word has spread about what happened, the low-key teenager has played it down.
“I’m not a hero,” said Josiah, one of five siblings and a homeschool student. “I just did what needed to be done. Whenever there is an emergency, I calm down and handle it, and then think about it after.”
The incident has reinforced his long-held dream to become a paramedic or EMT. “I have always wanted to be in the military, but I have asthma, so I can’t,” he said. “I just want to protect people and serve.”
Troopmaster Dwight Newell was not surprised to learn of Josiah’s unflappable response to the drama. “He is very quiet, very matter of fact,” he said. “What you see is what you get: he is very kind, and works extremely well with younger kids. He’s just a good Trailman.”
The incident was an example of the value of the character and skills development offered through Trail Life USA , Newell added. “It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing not only that very likely a small boy’s life was saved, but that we had a part in that,” he said. “As a volunteer, when you hear stories like that, that’s your pay.”
For Josiah’s parents, the rescue was also a reminder of their “miracle” son. Josiah was not breathing and had no pulse when he was born, not being revived for 13 minutes. Doctors told his parents “that he would have no quality of life,” Lisa said, but he went on to make a complete recovery. “He’s a miracle,” she said. “When he was little, he told us, ‘God put me here to help you guys.’”
Trail Life USA (https://www.traillifeusa.com) is a Christian outdoor adventure, character and leadership program for boys and young men, K-12. Chartered through churches in 48 states, the program centers on outdoor experiences and biblical values that build a young man’s skills and allow him to grow on a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers.
PHOTO CUTLINE: Josiah Groves, 15, holds brother Ezra, 20 months, after saving the young boy’s life by using first aid skills learned at his Trail Life USA troop.