When dealing with a stroke patient, every second counts. More often than not, EMS personnel will determine whether a patient has a good result or a bad result. In theory, EMS will diagnose a stroke, and transfer the patient to a hospital that has stroke center accreditation. The fire rescue personnel will call the hospital while in route, and advise the Emergency Room Nurse or Doctor that a Stroke Patient is on the way. Thus, when the patient arrives a CT of the brain is performed, labs are drawn, and the patient is evaluated by a neurologist.
In an effort to further expedite treatment, South Florida’s firefighters, doctors and local hospitals have collaborated to create one of the largest stroke consortiums in the nation. Called FOAM-D Stroke Consortium, it will comprise seven fire departments across Miami-Dade, 16 local hospitals and doctors from Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. The consortium should result in a more rapid response in treating stroke victims.
The statistics are alarming. According to the CDC someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds. Thus, in the time it has taken you to read this article, someone will have suffered a stroke. Strokes are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of disability.
The difference between a good result and a bad result for a stroke patient is 3.5 hours. If the patient can get to the hospital, have a CT scan done, labs drawn, and an evaluation by a neurologist within 3.5 hours from the onset of symptoms, then the patient can receive a drug known as tPA (“Tissue Plasminogen Activator) which can dissolve the blood clot, and allow for normal blood flow. Neurologist will not administer the drug after 3.5 hours, because the risk of benefit is outweighed by the potential harm(bleeding of the brain).
Phase 2 of the plan involves educating the public about the signs and symptoms of a stroke, which may be as important as Phase 1.