Elmont resident Katherine Falco was awarded the first Town of Hempstead’s Hometown Hero Award on Sept. 14 for her quick actions in delivering life-saving CPR to an infant who had stopped breathing inside the Buy Buy Baby in Garden City.
Falco, a registered nurse and part-time sales associate at the store, was just into the start of her shift on Sept. 6 when she heard someone yelling for help. A couple had entered the store with their baby, who was born with a hole in the wall of his heart, when the birth defect interfered with his oxygen flow, causing him to cry and cough. When the baby turned blue, the parents screamed for help.
As Falco made her way to the scene, hearing people asking for help from anyone who knew CPR, she expected to find an adult who had fainted or could have suffered a heart attack. Instead, she found two parents panicking over their child’s condition.
“Too be honest with you, I did not expect to be handed a four-week old baby,” Falco said. “But the next thing I knew I was doing CPR on the baby, and within seconds he started crying.”
Falco had also instructed the parents to call 911 as she performed CPR, so emergency medical technicians were able to arrive quickly and take the child to a nearby hospital. The baby is now recovering at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, awaiting open heart surgery to help repair the congenital heart defect.
Jim Mahoney, the store’s manager, recalled how everything seemed to stopped when the parent’s first yelled out, “Does anyone know CPR?” He described the sudden silence that took over the store until Falco suddenly jumped out from the register and ran over to help.
“I watched over with my eyes welling up,” Mahoney said. “ I couldn’t believe she was saving his life on the floor, right there in my store.”
Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin, who presented the award to Falco, explained that her quick actions and heroism were something that would inspire anybody. New York State Sen. Elaine Phillips also presented Falco with the Liberty Medal, the highest honor given by the Senate.
“What makes someone a hero is someone who does the extraordinary, who steps up when it’s needed the most,” Clavin said.
The Hempstead Hometown Hero Award will be awarded to a “brave resident whose heroic actions have made a life-saving difference for a fellow neighbor.” Flaco explained that being a hero means that you take action whenever the moment arises.
“To be there at the right time and the right place,” Falco said. “God puts you there for a reason, and I truly believe that.”