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Nashua YMCA lifeguard: ‘My training just kicked in and instincts took over’

Union Leader Correspondent

March 05. 2014 8:39PM

Samantha Goy of Nashua was one of two lifeguards at the Nashua YMCA who saved the life of Kugarany ‘Baba’ Sribalaharan (at right) this past December when she went into cardiac arrest while swimming laps. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON PHOTO)

NASHUA — As a lifeguard, Samantha Goy understands the importance of being prepared for an emergency — even if the situation is terrifying.

But those fears were cast aside this past December when Goy, 18, realized a swimmer at the Nashua YMCA was in trouble. Goy, along with her fellow lifeguard Brenna Connolly, quickly stepped into action when a woman lost consciousness while swimming laps in the pool.

Goy and Connolly were the guardian angels Kugarany ‘Baba’ Sribalaharan desperately needed that day when an undiscovered heart condition got the best of her and caused her to go into cardiac arrest while swimming.

Using CPR, Goy and Connolly were able to successfully revive Sribalaharan.

“My training just kicked in and instincts took over,” Goy said while attending an award ceremony Wednesday at Nashua High School South.

Their story was shared with select students from Nashua High School South and health/science students from Nashua High School North who attended the special event.

Hosted by American Medical Response, the award ceremony not only recognized Goy and Sribalaharan, but also honored more than 2,000 city high school students who participated in the first annual AMR CPR Challenge in December.

Christopher Stawasz, general manager for AMR in Nashua, said he expected about 100 students to enroll in the new event but was astounded when hundreds of teens began registering for CPR training.

“You could potentially save someone’s life,” Stawasz told the crowd on Wednesday. “Congratulations to everybody.”

Scribalaharan is an example of why CPR is such a vital skill for American youth to learn and understand, Stawasz said.

“This is such a valuable skill, and you should be commended for learning it,” agreed Dr. James Martin, medical director at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua.

Nashua High School South won the CPR trophy cup on Wednesday, as the city school trained 1,389 students compared to Nashua High School North’s participation with 827 students.

“This is just the start of your training,” said Justin Kates, emergency management director for the city.

Kates urged the newly certified CPR students to challenge themselves and learn other skills such as first aid or eventually participate in Nashua’s Community Response Team.

“You guys might be the people to call 911 and begin CPR during an emergency. Already you are more prepared,” he told the students.

As for Sribalaharan, she said she will be forever grateful to her rescuers and for their excellent training in CPR. Her family, she added, was anxious to meet at least one of the women who saved her life.

Connolly was unable to attend the ceremony, as she is away at college.

Organizers of the CPR challenge are hoping to expand the program next year to include students from Manchester high schools as well, Stawasz said.

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