WEST WARWICK — Juana Palacios was making her rounds one afternoon earlier this year, distributing mail on Alden Drive in West Warwick, when she noticed a resident in need of emergency medical attention.
If not for her quick response, the situation may have ended in tragedy.
A letter carrier with the United States Postal Service, Palacios had been making her deliveries on March 3 when she happened across a man laying in his lawn, semi-conscious and foaming at the mouth, according to the local postmaster.
“[She] showed up to a resident’s house to find the customer unconscious on the front lawn in just a T-shirt. It was about 35 degrees that day,” Todd Rekrut, postmaster for the Town of West Warwick, said Thursday. “That person was in some serious distress.”
After getting no verbal response from the resident, Palacios immediately called 911 and then waited until the West Warwick Fire Department arrived to transport him to the hospital, where he later recovered.
“I have no doubt that had it not been for Mrs. Palacios timing, quick thinking, and compassion there would have been a more severe outcome,” Rekrut wrote in an email to Col. Mark Knott, West Warwick’s interim town manager.
On Thursday, Knott, Fire Chief Jeffrey Varone, local firefighters, and Town Council Vice President Maribeth Williamson and councilor Jason Messier stopped by the local post office to recognize Palacios for the life-saving aid she rendered that day.
“In this day and age, so many people would just drive by, or turn on their video and film it for entertainment value,” Knott said, as he prepared to present a citation to the local hero.
Williamson echoed that.
“Many people wouldn’t bother to step up,” she said. “Because of your heroic efforts, we just want to say thank you very much.”
Knott said he’s proud that in West Warwick, there are government workers — whether in the fire and police departments or at the post office — he can trust to do the right thing in emergencies like the one Palacios encountered.
While Palacios’s heroic actions speak to the kind of person she is, Rekrut added, it also shows just how woven into the community postal workers are.
“We’re that person that they see every day,” he said. “For some people, we’re the only people they see.”
Steven Lachapelle, postal operations manager in Southeastern New England, also showed up for the celebration. Lachapelle lauded Palacios for stepping up, before joining Rekrut in presenting her with a letter of commendation on behalf of the United States Postal Service.
“You chose to get involved,” he told her, “and from what I understand, probably saved this person’s life. So thank you very much.”