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Saving a Life

“I want her to be confident in herself and not be afraid to lead,” says Michelle Morua, of her daughter Naya, who is a Brownie Girl Scout. The opportunity to demonstrate her leadership and bravery presented itself in dramatic fashion during a recent fishing trip with her dad.

Louie Morua was fishing off the dock at Tulloch Lake in Tuolumne County while Naya and her 9-year-old brother Joseph played nearby. Suddenly, Joseph started choking on a piece of candy.

“I got this, I got this!” yelled 7-year-old Naya, who pulled up Joseph and immediately began administering the Heimlich maneuver until her dad could get there. She learned the skill through training offered to her Girl Scout troop.

“I thought my brother was playing, but then he started turning purple and wasn’t talking,” Naya said. “I told him to stand up and I tried to get the candy out of his windpipe, but it was really stuck. My dad tried and got it out.”

Naya’s quick reaction to start the Heimlich maneuver enabled her dad to help dislodge the candy and save Joseph’s life.

“It felt good to help him,” Naya said. “I didn’t like it when Joseph was choking. I felt scared, and I was afraid that it might be the end of my brother.”

Naya was presented with the national Girl Scout Medal of Honor in February, 2017, in recognition of her efforts. This prestigious award is given to Girl Scouts who save or attempt to save someone’s life and perform heroic acts beyond the degree of maturity and training expected at their age. Naya is only the second Girl Scout in the local Girl Scout council to earn this honor in the past decade.

Michelle credits her daughter’s ability to respond quickly in an emergency to the training her Brownie troop received from Louie, who works in emergency medical services and is the captain of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District. As a certified first aid and CPR instructor, he has conducted first aid and CPR classes for Naya’s Girl Scout troop and Joseph’s Webelo Boy Scout troop for the past several years.

“When you teach these classes, you wonder how much they’ll remember and how they’ll react in an emergency,” Louie said. “It’s gratifying that she knew what to do in that situation. This could happen to anyone.”

Michelle, an emergency trauma nurse at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, said she and Louie have emphasized the importance of first aid preparedness with their children from a young age.

“We’ve been talking about first aid since the kids were in kindergarten,” she said. “If they’re not trained, they panic and shut down. The more practice you have, the more comfortable you’ll be. Don’t ever underestimate your child. Even at a young age they can save a life, whether it’s a friend, a stranger or a sibling.”

Being in Girl Scouts has also helped Naya gain confidence in her leadership abilities and reinforced the importance of helping others. “We want our children to be good, responsible human beings, and Girl Scouts has shown her that she can do anything,” beams her proud mother.


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