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38-year-old Salt River firefighter recovering after having a stroke

Ramon Arenas Jr. had a stroke on Sunday, five days after falling down briefly at work. Now he's working to recover and get back to serving the community.

PHOENIX — Why would a healthy, 38-year-old firefighter have a stroke? That was the question doctors asked themselves as they worked to treat Ramon Arenas Jr.

“It was like an episode of House, they couldn’t figure out why,” Arenas Jr. said.

Arenas Jr. is a Salt River firefighter. He said that when he got home from work on Sunday, he felt what he described as a bubble wrap pop.

“Something popped in the back of my neck and instantly I lost coordination,” Arenas Jr. said.

Soon after, he started experiencing signs of a stroke. Arenas Jr. began assessing his own condition like he’s done countless times for others.

“I was like, 'This is not good,'” Arenas Jr. said.

His wife called 911 and Phoenix fire took him to St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

“I had a block in my cerebellum area,” Arenas Jr. said.

Doctors eventually figured out why this may have happened.

“Finally, [they asked] ‘Did you happen to take a fall?’” Arenas Jr. said. “It was just like a light bulb went off, ‘Actually I did fall and I cracked my helmet.'”

During a swift water training with the Technical Rescue Team on June 1, Arenas Jr. said that he slipped on moss and fell. It wasn't until after he realized there was a crack in his helmet. 

The crack lined up with the blockage in his head when he had the stroke five days later.

“Thinking initially worst-case scenario, 'What am I going to do?'” Arenas Jr. said.

Since the stroke, Arenas Jr. said that his facial drooping has gotten better and he is preparing for a move to the rehab center. 

Currently, Arenas Jr. said that the team is working out a treatment plan for him.

But, he has plans to get back to serve the community.

“I cannot, not see myself on that truck,” Arenas Jr. said.

If you want to help Arenas Jr. out as he recovers, you can do so through his GoFundMe page.

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