NBC News- Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke.
It’s considered the leading cause of serious long term disability in the U.S. But the amount of damage to the brain all depends on the quality of care and just how fast paramedics get to the victim .
First responders are on the front lines in the race to save stroke victims lives. Austin Schrader, Director of EMS Operations & Emergency Preparedness, said it is critical that a stroke victim gets help quickly.
“Strokes above all other medical emergencies that we treat are especially time sensitive.”
Each second of an untreated stroke, 32,000 neurons or brain cells die. That’s nearly two million every minute.
“It can literally mean the difference between a good, quality of life and a very poor prognosis.”, said Schrader.
By using assessment tools and diagnostics on board the ambulance, paramedics can help control a patient’s blood pressure, administer oxygen or establish an IV line. While en route, they also perform another vital function.
“We can call ahead to the hospital and they’re prepared for us”, said Schrader, “We go directly to the CT scanner.”
While getting that brain scan information will take several minutes, Morgan Boyer, Market Clinical Project Manager for Neuroscience, said the ambulance crew is delivering other vital information without delay.
“We’re also getting a report at the same time from our EMS provider”, Boyer said, “And every bit of information that they can provide is imperative for us in making those right clinical treatment decisions.”
If it’s an ischemic or clot induced stroke, clot-induced medication called TPA, is administered but the medication needs to be warmed up; another reason that ambulance call ahead is so critical when time equals saving brain cells.
“It gives us increased preparation”, Boyer said, “And it makes sure that you go to the facility that is prepared to handle you for stroke.”
According to the centers for disease control, stroke kills about 140,000 Americans every year, that’s one out of every 20 deaths.