DAYTON — He’ll run into a burning building to save a life. And he’ll take on flames in a fiery crash to extricate victims.
But nothing will likely top the adrenaline rush Levi Dalton had Friday. The Xenia firefighter/paramedic hitched a ride with the famed U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Dayton Air Show as part of the Hometown Heroes flights, pulling 9 G’s in the Dayton sky.
Dalton was treated to the 60-minute flight after performing CPR on a lifeless 17-month-old girl near his home in Warren County in February, ultimately saving her life.
“It was amazing,” Dalton said as he lumbered out of the plane. “I had a great time. Time of my life. No roller coaster could every prepare for that. I didn’t get sick or anything. My pilot was awesome.”
The F-16 took off shortly before 3 p.m. and landed a little after 4 p.m. In between wheels up and wheels down, pilot Jason Markzon performed barrel rolls, banking knife-edge turns and other stunts before handing the control stick to Dalton.
“I was able to roll over and do loops, pulling G’s,” Dalton said. “He probably got 40 minutes of flight time. I took the other 20.”
Taking control is nothing new to Dalton, which is why he ended up receiving the flight.
An employee of Xenia Fire Division since May 2017, Dalton was on his way home Feb. 28 after a class at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown. Nearing his Turtlecreek Township home, he noticed his neighbor, Will Long, frantically running outside with something in a blanket.
“He was screaming help me, she’s not breathing,” Dalton said.
Long was holding his 17-month-old daughter, Harper, who had accidentally hung herself while reaching for an electronic device behind the family’s couch. Dalton stopped in the middle of the street, ran to Long, grabbed the girl and performed the life-saving efforts he’s been trained to do. At the same time, he saw Warren County Deputy Sheriff Andrew Grossenbaugh, who was in the neighborhood for another reason, Dalton said.
Dalton flagged down the deputy and asked how far the medic was. When told the medic hadn’t left the station yet, Dalton hopped in the cruiser with Harper and they sped off to Atrium.
Harper survived — she went home from the hospital the next day — because of Dalton and the deputy. According to the girl’s mother, Maggie, had they waited for the medic the outcome would have been much different.
“I’m definitely blessed with how everything turned out with my little neighbor Harper,” Dalton said.
For his actions, Xenia Mayor Sarah Mays declared Feb. 28 Levi Dalton Day in front of a council chamber packed with family, friends and colleagues.
And he got 60 minutes in the air he’ll likely never forget.