Balmville security officer saves 5th grader

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Ariana Miranda and Hector Almodovar

BALMVILLE – A Balmville School security officer is credited with saving a fifth-grade student who was choking on a piece of an orange during lunchtime.

Newburgh school officials said Ariana Miranda was eating lunch on Tuesday, April 19 when she ate an orange and decided to get another one.

She began to peel and eat the second one when a small piece lodged in her throat. “I was really scared and shocked,” she said. She went over to a garbage can in hopes of getting the piece out and that is when security officer Hector Almodovar saw her walking hunched toward the garbage can. He asked her if she was choking and while she could not respond, she nodded affirmatively.

Almodovar immediately performed the Heimlich Maneuver. “It only took about two to three pumps and she said, ‘it’s out’,” he recounted.

“I never thought someone could choke on a juicy orange, but I am glad he was there,” Ariana said.

The former New York City Housing Police officer cited the first aid training he received on that job as the reason for his quick thinking and composure in the moment. All Newburgh Enlarged City School District security monitors are also trained annually in basic life saver first aid and CPR and are AED certified.

“We are blessed and grateful to have him here,” Balmville Principal Dr. Lisa Buon said of Almodovar. “The kids and parents love him and he represents Balmville to the fullest.”