In a moment of crisis, even the coolest hand can become frazzled and panicked. It’s easy to lose sight of the task at hand when the pressure is on.
But Riya Surujbali, 6, isn’t your average first grader. In fact, she showed a level of poise rarely seen by someone who isn’t actually in the medical field.
Riya was at home with her little brother in Long Island, New York.
Riya is an active member of the Girl Scouts, and at only 6 years old, is already learning some important skills. In her most recent meeting with the scouts, she was taught how to identify someone who was choking.
More importantly, she learned how to free their airway and save their life. It’s a skill she would end up using sooner than later.
Riya and her 3-year-old brother were at home, enjoying some grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by their mother. That’s when she noticed her brother was in distress.
“Kirin, you’re choking!” Riya said when she realized her brother needed help.
Riya’s mother, Sharlene Surujbali, was in another room washing dishes when she heard her daughter scream. The mother rushed into the room, but by the time she got there, Riya was already taking care of it.
“She’s so brave and we absolutely love her and we’re so proud of her,” Sharlene said to ABC 7 NY.
The training the little girl had received at Girl Scouts paid off in a major way. Without missing a beat, she delivered two forceful back blows to her brother, dislodging the piece of grilled cheese sandwich from his throat.
As amazed and impressed as everyone else was, Riya was cool as a cucumber, showing no fear or hesitation in saving her brother’s life.
“Because I learned it in Girl Scouts and I knew what to do and I went and did it,” she said to ABC 7 NY.
For her heroism and bravery, Riya earned the Girl Scout National Medal of Honor.
Riya was honored and nationally recognized by the Girl Scouts, and received a citation for saving her brother’s life from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. The National Medal of Honor is only awarded to Girl Scouts who save a life.
“It is my pleasure to honor Girl Scout Daisy Riya for her bravery and quick-thinking,” Curran said.
In turn, Rande Bynum, the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, described Riya earning the medal of honor a “huge deal.”
“Usually it’s a teenage girl, an older girl, at 6 years old to receive this honor is a great first step in,” Bynum said. “I can’t imagine her leadership career here in Girl Scouts.”