Glendale girl receives Medal of Honor
When thinking about Girl Scouts, cookies, crafts, or badges might come to mind. But for Suzanne Ramos, 15, of Glendale, and Kassandra Fjotland, 15, from the Bronx, the height of their scouting careers involves saving lives.
Both girls were presented with Medal of Honor awards for their quick, resourceful thinking.
Ramos, a Troop 4015 member and a student at Maspeth High School, has been a Girl Scout since the fourth grade.
All the years of lessons and training as a Girl Scout came in handy when one day she realized her little sister was choking, and she had to step in.
“We were having dinner in our living room, and I heard my sister making noises. Sometimes my sister just makes random noises to herself, but the noise kept continuing. So I turned around to look at her, and her face was blue and her lips were purple,” Ramos said. “My mind was just so clear at that point of what to do.”
Thanks to the skills she learned from Girl Scouts, Ramos knew to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her then-9-year-old sister.
“My troop does a bunch of trips, and sometimes we learn multiple things in one day, like when I learned to do the Heimlich maneuver. On our first day, we learned CPR, Heimlich maneuver, we had suture kits and stuff like that,” Ramos said.
“When we were doing the first day training, they were ways to know if someone’s choking, like when their face is a different color, or they can’t speak,” she continued. “That’s how I knew that’s what I needed to do.”
In addition to her Medal of Honor, Ramos was honored with a proclamation from New York City Councilman Robert Holden.
“In a harrowing moment, Suzanne Cardona performed the Heimlich maneuver on her sister, who was choking and unable to breathe. Ms. Cardona did not hesitate to act and provide life-saving care,” Holden said.
“A credit to the efforts of her parents, teachers, and Scout Leaders, she personifies the very best qualities of a Girl Scout and a member of our community,” he continued. “I was very happy to present this extraordinary young lady with a NYC Council proclamation. Our city needs more people like her.”
Fjotland of Troop 3205, who’s been a Girl Scout for a decade, also came to the rescue of unsuspecting victims during a field trip to Fire Island.
She and two other girls were swimming further out into the ocean, until Fjotland realized that they were caught in a riptide.
“I knew I had to step in when the lifeguards were not noticing what was going on, so I started waving my arms and I was able to grab one of the girls,” Fjotland said. “The lifeguards were able to go into the water and get the girl from the sister troop who was deeper in the water.”
Although escaping a riptide isn’t something she learned from Girl Scouts specifically, Fjotland said that skills like reacting quickly and being resourceful are skills from the Scouts that helped her in that moment.
“Just knowing when to step in is a big factor with what I’ve learned in Girl Scouts,” she said. “Just helping others and if you were in that situation, you’d want someone to help you as well. So that was my mindset.”
In a ceremony, Fjotland was awarded with a proclamation from New York State Senator Robert Jackson, and a citation from City Councilwoman Carmen De La Rosa.
“Kassandra and Suzanne are shining examples of the Girl Scouts’ training and leadership in action,” De La Rosa said. “Their bravery and heroism helped save lives and continue to inspire our community and their fellow troop members. As a community we are proud and as Councilmember I’m honored to celebrate their well deserved National Lifesaving Award.”