Arlington Police, Fire Surprise 7-Year-Old Who Helped Save Sister's Life
By Tim Ciesco
Posted on May 20, 2020, May 20, 2020

7-year-old Carter Woodruff is living proof that heroes come in all sizes. 

Last week, while he and his 2-year-old sister Harper were playing, he noticed that she’d placed a small, shiny object in her mouth. It didn’t take him long to figure out that the object was a circular lithium battery. But before he could get her to spit it out, she’d swallowed it. 

Carter immediately ran to the other room to tell his dad what happened. He also brought him a similar battery, so he could better explain what she had swallowed. 

“He was brave,” said Rebekah Woodruff, Carter’s mother. “A lot of kids might have been afraid and run the other way.”

His parents rushed Harper to the hospital, where doctors were quick to praise Carter’s actions. According to the National Capital Poison Center, lithium batteries can burn through a child’s esophagus in two hours. There have also been documented cases where swallowing a battery has led to death. 

“The surgeon said how important it was that they found out right away,” said Rebekah Woodruff. “Because [a lithium battery] can do some major harm. It was a little bit scary. But we are so, so thankful that [Harper] is okay.”

When the Arlington Police and Fire Departments learned about Carter’s life-saving efforts, they decided he’d earned some recognition. 

“Carter immediately saw that what took place was a serious event and he needed to act,” said Sergeant Michael Chitty with the Arlington Police Department. “That’s what the public expects from us as officers and firefighters. But Carter didn’t ask to be put in that situation. Carter just found himself in that position. And he reacted perfectly.”

The agencies surprised him by sending a fire engine and a police SWAT vehicle to his house – their way to say job well done. 

“I know that we definitely averted disaster,” said Lt. Richard Fegan with the Arlington Fire Department. “And it’s most likely because of his immediate action.”

After showing Carter around their vehicles and letting him take some of their gear for a spin, they left him with a pair of special coins and an award to certify his hero status. 

“I could not think of a better way to honor or recognize Carter for protecting his sister,” said Rebekah Woodruff. “Because that’s what big brothers are supposed to do. We are so proud of him.”

“I feel good,” said Carter. 

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