SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The Seminole and Orange County Fire Departments held a celebration to honor the life-saving effort made by firefighter Nicolas Bedoya while he was off-duty.
“Because (of) those people that were there, I’m here today,” said Paul Deluca as he fought back tears, referring to the firefighters and paramedics who helped save him.
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Deluca, 53, was on his way to work the morning of Oct. 6, 2021 when he suffered a heart attack. His vehicle lost control at the intersection of Tuskawilla Road and Gabriella Lane in Oviedo and crashed into a brick wall.
Seminole County deputies arrived soon after and retrieved him from his car.
That’s when Bedoya, an Orange County Fire Rescue paramedic, stepped in. He was going back home after dropping his children off at school when he saw what was happening. Bedoya’s firefighter instincts kicked in and he rushed over to perform CPR.
“I saw the police officers, the deputies, doing something there and I noticed the guy was on the ground,” Bedoya recalled.
Bedoya, a native of Guatemala and father of three, has been a firefighter for the Orange County Fire Department for 18 years.
“An off-duty firefighter, a regular citizen, doing that CPR on scene allows some time for our paramedics to get there ‘cause those seconds do count,” said Matt Kinley, interim fire chief for Seminole County.
It was during the celebration of that life-saving event in Winter Garden where Deluca and Bedoya embraced each other for the first time since the incident.
“It means the world to me because something happened to me and someone was there to help correct it within seconds, not minutes,” Deluca said.
Several other firefighters, including one of Seminole County’s newest members who were at the scene that morning, received recognition as well.
Bedoya said when he saw the man he helped save, a memorable quote came to mind.
“Acts of kindness and goodwill is what keeps the darkness away,” he said. “We don’t really often get the chance to see the patients that we treat and absolutely this was very special.”