Tuesday, April 19, 2022, started off as an ordinary lunch period for Balmville School fifth-grader Ariana Miranda. Then it took an unexpected turn.
“I was eating an orange and once I finished it I decided to get one more,” Miranda explained. As she began to peel and eat her second orange, a small piece lodged in her throat. “I was really scared and shocked,” she said. “I walked to the garbage can to try to get it out myself.”
That is when Security Officer Hector Almodovar noticed Miranda walking hunched towards the garbage can. He noticed the student struggling and asked if she was choking. She could not answer verbally but responded with an affirmative nod.
Almodovar immediately leaped into action and performed the Heimlich maneuver. “It only took about two or three pumps and she said, ‘It’s out!’,” explained Almodovar. “It’s what we do. It’s part of the job,” he said, referring to himself and his colleagues on the Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Safety & Security team.
Almodovar, a former New York Housing Police Officer, also cited the first-aid training he received during his time with the NYPD as a reason for his quick thinking and composure in the moment.
Miranda was shaken up by the incident, but is feeling fine. She is excited to be moving up to middle school in June, but acknowledges how lucky she was in the moment. “I never thought someone could choke on a juicy orange, but I am glad he (Almodovar) was there.”
Immediately following the incident, Almodovar escorted Miranda to the school nurse where she was examined to assess if further medical attention was needed. Her parents were notified.
Balmville School Principal Dr. Lisa Buon stated, “We are blessed and grateful to have him (Almodovar) here. The kids and parents love him and he represents Balmville to the fullest.”
All school district security monitors are annually trained in Basic Life Saver First Aid and are CPR/AED certified.