Friday, 29 May 2009 08:32
On the morning of March 23, Sarah Stouges, a 13-year-old student from St. Edward’s School in Syosset, was following her normal routine to get ready for school when something very unexpected happened. Her father Bill was about to walk out the door so he could drive her to school when, all of a sudden, he began choking. Bill had just tossed a munchkin in his mouth and it got stuck.
Bill, a father of three and ex-EMT, first ran into the bathroom and thought he could do the Heimlich maneuver on himself. When he looked in the mirror, he saw that his face was turning blue. Sarah noticed what happened and she immediately performed the Heimlich on her father. She had learned this lifesaving application in health class at school – a critical lesson that ultimately enabled her to save her Dad’s life. Not only did Bill feel a huge sense of pride and appreciation because of Sarah’s actions, but he also believes this monumental event helped strengthen the bond between him and his daughter.
Syosset Fire Commissioner Frank Vasile found out about Sarah’s heroic efforts by reading a story about it on the St. Edward’s School website. He was so impressed by her calm under pressure that he and the rest of the Board of Fire Commissioners honored Sarah at a special ceremony on April 29 at Syosset Fire Department headquarters. The Board of Fire Commissioners presented Sarah with a lifesaving plaque to recognize her extraordinary actions.
“We are extremely proud of the efforts made by Sarah Stouges to save her father,” said Commissioner Frank Vasile. “To see someone as young as Sarah pull off a heroic act like that is remarkable. As firefighters and EMTs who are committed to helping and saving others, it only seemed natural for us to honor Sarah in this way.”
“When the incident happened, it happened to be a tough week,” said Bill Stouges of South Huntington. “My wife’s brother had just passed away and my brother-in-law had a heart attack the very next day. They say this type of thing happens in threes, but thanks to the actions of my daughter, I was saved. Everyone was emotional; my wife was crying. It’s really tough to put into words.” As a small token of appreciation, Bill and his wife Kerrie bought Sarah her very first pair of contact lenses – something she had wanted for a few years now.
Sarah is a swimmer and has just started babysitting, so knowledge of lifesaving techniques like the Heimlich maneuver is also important in those settings. She hopes to become a lifeguard when she turns 15. Sarah will attend Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset next year. She has a sister, Rebecca who is in sixth grade and a brother, Billy who is in third grade – both attend St. Edward’s School, as well.