A Hudson Valley school "defender" was the only person in the room who could have saved the child's life.

On Thursday New York Senator, 39th District, James Skoufis honored a Newburgh lunch monitor for saving a child's life.

Newburgh, New York Lunch Monitor Giving Liberty Medal

James Skoufis
James Skoufis
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Hector Almodovar was awarded a Liberty Medal for his heroism. The Liberty Medal is the highest civilian honor given out by the New York Senate. In the past four years, just four Liberty Medals were awarded across New York State, according to Skoufis.

"I am honored to present Hector with a Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Senate, for his heroic application of the Heimlich maneuver," Skoufis said. "We are deeply grateful for his quick thinking!"

Last spring, Almodovar was working his usual lunch monitor shift at Balmville Elementary School in Newburgh when he noticed then 5th-grader Ariana Miranda began to choke while eating an orange.

James Skoufis
James Skoufis
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Almodovar sprang into action performing the Heimlich maneuver three times to save the child's life.

"I am grateful that Mr. A was there," Ariana said. "He is a protector and defender of the school. When I think of him I always feel proud.

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Retired NYPD Saves Child's Life in Newburgh, New York

No other adults in the cafeteria knew how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, according to Skoufis.

"His immediate instinct to help saved a young girl's life," Skoufis said.

James Skoufis
James Skoufis
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Almodovar worked for 25 years as a police officer for the NYPD. He was recognized several times for his work as a police officer, according to Skoufis.

Now, in his retirement, your community, and Ariana's family, no doubt, are deeply grateful for your quick thinking and action. I am honored to award you with this Liberty Medal on behalf of New York State," Skoufis said at the ceremony, you can see the ceremony below.

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