PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A Paterson EMT was honored when she went above and beyond the call of duty while working a side gig as a caterer
Valeria Franco stands about two feet shorter than Pastor Anthony Palmer and about a third his size, but managed to save his life because she was in the right place, at the right time.
Franco is an EMT for Woodland Park, New Jersey, and back in December she volunteered with her mother as a caterer for a wedding at Empowered Life Church in Paterson.
Pastor Palmer was in the middle of addressing the congregation when he collapsed. He said all he remembers is passing out during his speech.
"We heard something fall, we were all in a separate room and were a little confused," Franco said.
Many of the guests were in shock at the scene unfolding, but for Franco and her mother, they knew it was time for action.
"I was like Valeria go, run, do it it's your thing, they're waiting for you," mom Brenda Franco said.
It turns out Pastor Palmer suffered cardiac arrest and Franco didn't waste time before she started to administer emergency aid.
Franco and others began CPR and the 22-year-old performed it for nearly 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived.
"She is literally a lifesaver," Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.
Franco was honored with an award from the mayor of Paterson and received a special thank you from Pastor Palmer's grateful wife.
"He was right in the middle of making a joke," Lavelle Palmer said. "He made the joke, everyone laughed and then he went out."
After the award ceremony, the restaurant Franco was volunteering for threw her a little party for her heroic actions.
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