MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 8, 2014

Norman middle school student, 13, saves father’s life

By Hannah Cruz
CNHI News Service

— NORMAN — Paying attention in class proved to be life-saving for one Norman student whose knowledge saved his father’s life.

When Jaron Schlechter, 13, recognized signs and symptoms of stroke his father Rick Schlechter, 50, was exhibiting, he didn’t hesitate to call 911.

“I remember learning at school some of the things that would happen during something like this,” Jaron told the Norman Transcript. “I just wasn’t sure if it was really happening, but I didn’t want to take any chances.”

The Irving Middle School eighth-grader said a Sunday morning was just like any other day in the Norman house he shares with his dad.

The duo was getting ready to head out the door to watch soccer tryouts for a semi-pro team when things took a turn for the worse.

All of a sudden, Jaron said, his dad started running back and forth between rooms and began clenching and unclenching his hands. Before long, Rick dropped to the floor in the hallway and started holding his right wrist tightly, kicking his legs everywhere.

Jaron said his dad’s lip began to droop  — a stroke symptom he remembered learning in class  — when he called for help, describing to the 911 dispatcher that his dad was “acting crazy.”

For the next 10 minutes, Jaron stayed on the phone. He gathered his father’s medications to give to the paramedics, as instructed by the dispatcher.

“Once they got there, it seemed like it was going fast,” Jaron said about the paramedics. “Even though it only took 10 minutes for them to get there, it was the longest 10 minutes anyone could imagine. It seemed to take forever.”

After a few tests at Norman Regional Hospital’s Emergency Room, Jaron said it was confirmed his father had experienced a stroke.

Immediately after the stroke, Jaron said his father couldn’t move the right side of his body or speak.

Within just a few days, Rick was moving the right side of his body, speaking and learning how to write again.

Jaron said he doesn’t want to take credit for saving his father’s life.

“I know I helped him, but I figured he would have lived with or without me somehow,” he said.

“I don’t think so, honey. You did it. You made it,” Rick said slowly in reply. “... This time, I wouldn’t have made it. If it was just me ... I wouldn’t have made it. That’s it.”

Though intense physical therapy is anticipated, Rick said his doctors have given him a good prognosis.

As for Jaron, he said he hopes his dad won’t face anything medically serious any time soon.

“It’s just us two,” Jaron said. “We’ve had a hard past with medical issues, all sorts of things, but me and him  — just us two.”

Hannah Cruz writes for the Norman Trnascript.