MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A 12-year-old Long Island girl has received the New York State Senate Liberty Medal for saving her father’s life after he started choking.
Seventh-grader Victoria Scalli learned the Heimlich maneuver in gym class at Merrick Avenue Middle School.
A week later, her 50-year-old father Mark Scalli was eating dinner when he started to choke.
“We were about to have dinner and her father was choking on Italian bread,” Nancy Scalli told CBS 2′s Maurice DuBois.
That’s when Victoria sprang into action.
“I was in my room doing homework and I heard him gasping for air,” Victoria told WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall. “He couldn’t breathe at all.”
“I really didn’t think I was going to make it, that’s how bad it got,” Mark told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “It happened so quick, I just couldn’t breathe.”
Victoria used her newly learned training, performed the Heimlich maneuver, and saved her father’s life.
“She just knew what to do,” Mark said. “My older daughter was crying and screaming and she just did it nice and calm. Whatever she learned that week really stuck.”
Senator Charles Fuschillo presented the award to Victoria on Thursday.
“Victoria Scalli’s quick thinking and heroic actions saved her father’s life,” Fuschillo said. “In a situation which would cause many people to panic, Victoria showed tremendous poise, relied on her training, and prevented a tragedy. She is a true hero and it is my pleasure to present her with this well-deserved honor.”
The New York State Senate Liberty Medal is one of the highest civilian honors that a New Yorker can receive. It is given to people who have “merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic, or humanitarian acts and achievements on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.”
Fuschillo said he is pushing legislation to require school districts to teach the Heimlich maneuver.
Victoria said it was one of the most important lessons she’s ever learned at school.
“If I didn’t learn that I really don’t know what would’ve happened,” Victoria said. “I thought he was going to die.”
“In another matter of minutes it would’ve been it for me, but thank God she knew what to do and she did it well,” Mark said.
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