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South Tech Firefighting & EMT Student Helps Save Mom’s Life 

South Tech student Jackson Mandernach stands in front of a fire truck.

February 8, 2024 - Senior South Tech student Jackson Mandernach is known by many for his athletic abilities and leadership skills. He is captain of the Affton School District varsity soccer team, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes member, and a member of the National Honors Society. To add to this list of distinctions, a recent act of quick thinking is one that credits him for saving his mom’s life during a medical emergency. 

“I woke up one morning with a horrible headache,” said Ann Mandernach, Jackson’s mom. “But I thought it would eventually go away, so I proceeded to get ready for work.” 

But the pain didn’t go away. In fact, things took a turn for the worse. 

“I dropped something on the floor and tried to pick it up but could not due to the weakness in my arms.”

Ann had collapsed on the bathroom floor and immediately called her husband for help. Jackson, too, rushed to the scene. 

“My dad checked on her and then called me in,” said Jackson. “The left side of her face was drooped, and she had little strength in her body.” 

That’s when Jackson decided to take action and start the BE-FAST assessment. BE-FAST stands for balance, eyes, face, arms, speech, and time to call 911. Evaluating these for indicators can help determine if someone is having a stroke. It’s an emergency response process Jackson learned in the Firefighting & EMT program at South Tech. 

“I asked her to raise her hands out in front of her, and her left side lacked more strength than her right. Her speech was also slurred, and she could not speak very well. As a result, I inferred that she had experienced a stroke, told my dad, and we called 911.”

Jackson’s diagnosis was correct, and his mother recovered in the hospital for about a week. While the recovery process has been slow, she is seeing improvements every day thanks to speech, occupational, and physical therapy. Jackson feels blessed knowing that he was able to help a loved one get to the hospital quickly due to the severity of the stroke. 

“As far as I can see, Jackson followed all the appropriate steps,” said David Hope, South Tech Firefighting and EMT Instructor. “He noticed right away that there was a medical problem. It’s definitely something that could have been worse if he hadn't taken action immediately and got help. He’s on track right now to be certified as a firefighter and EMT. His dedication to the field will take him far."

After graduating high school, Jackson plans to join the paramedic program at Jefferson College and eventually enter the St. Louis County Fire Academy