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UNI student saves life while abroad

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, August 27, 2012

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 13:08


Courtesy Photo

Austin Hedstrom (third from the right, back row) is pictured here with his fellow study abroad students in the Forbidden City of Beijing, China. Hedstrom saved the life of a young boy while participating in an English teaching program abroad.

After saving a young boy’s life in China this summer, University of Northern Iowa student Austin Hedstrom learned a life-saving lesson: “Always be prepared and be aware of your surroundings.”
    Hedstrom is a junior at UNI with a double major in finance and real estate. He decided to go to Dongguan, China, when his roommate signed up to participate in the China study abroad summer program teaching English to Chinese students from elementary to high school.

    The day Hedstrom saved the boy’s life was a fairly ordinary one. Hedstrom had just finished teaching and went to a nearby swimming pool to relax with other UNI students, their Chinese pupils and some of their parents.

    While in the pool, Hedstrom noticed a few boys pulling an unresponsive friend through the water towards the edge of the pool. Worried about what was going on, Hedstrom quickly got out of the pool and hurried to the boy while a crowd gathered around him.

    “Nobody was doing anything; they were just looking at him not knowing what to do,” Hedstrom said.

    Hedstrom, who has a lifeguard certification and knows CPR, rolled the boy on his side and administered back thrusts. The boy sputtered out water, regained consciousness and opened his eyes. 
    Speaking to the boy through a Chinese English teacher, Hedstrom asked him questions and then carried the boy to a car to go to a hospital. After arriving at the hospital, Hedstrom carried the boy in the building and continued to care for him until the nurses took over. The boy turned out fine and was released to his parents later that day.

    “I’m really glad everything turned out okay and that I could help this little kid,” said Hedstrom.

    Yana Cornish, Director of Study Abroad Programs, was the head faculty member for the China study abroad summer program. Cornish was not at the pool that day, but was impressed with Hedstrom’s actions.

    “I think it is a really remarkable behavior and lightning decision making that Austin exhibited in this emergency situation,” Cornish said, adding that “that boy and his family will always remember Austin for what he did for them and thank him.”


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