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Retired NYPD officer Hector Almodovar saves choking fifth grader at Balmville Elementary School

BALMVILLE, N.Y. — A former NYPD officer saved the day at an Orange County school, taking quick action when a student started choking at lunchtime.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello spoke with the fifth grader and her new hero.

Ten-year-old Ariana Miranda is grateful for surviving a scary situation.

“I wouldn’t say I panicked. I’d say I was more like a calm in that situation,” Ariana said.

The situation unfolded last week at lunchtime when Ariana took a big bite of an orange, which promptly became lodged in her throat.

“I thought I could take it out myself, but it turns out you can’t when something’s big. So you need help,” she said.

Hector Almodovar, a retired NYPD officer who works security at Balmville Elementary School, was keeping an eye on the kids during lunch.

“I heard the other guard scream out, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?'” Almodovar said.

When Ariana started choking, Almodovar’s training kicked in.

“He did like the … what’s it called again? It’s like the little thingy,” Ariana said.

“The Heimlich maneuver,” said Aiello.

“Yeah, Heimlich maneuver,” said Ariana.

“Belly button, and just pull up and hope it works out,” Almodovar said. “Had no time. Just ran up to her and just did the Heimlich. It took about two pumps and she just said ‘It came out, it came out.'”

Almodovar rushed Ariana to the school nurse, who called her parents. There was relief all around that she was OK thanks the Almodovar’s quick thinking.

“I felt good. Glad I was there for her to help her. It could have been worse and thank God it didn’t get worse,” Almodovar said.

“I’m grateful because he’s in my life, and that he could save me at that point. If he weren’t there, the story would have taken a different place,” Ariana said.

Aiello asked her, “Do you think you want to learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver?”

“Yes I do for any occasions I could jump into action,” Ariana said.

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District said it’s proud of Almodovar. The district offers annual first aid refresher courses for all of its security monitors.

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