Stroke Ambulance for NSW

November 16, 2020
Stroke Foundation has welcomed today’s announcement on a new stroke ambulance (or mobile stroke unit) in New South Wales (NSW).

Minister for Health and Medical Research the Hon Brad Hazzard MP announced the innovative research project, which has the potential to significantly reduce stroke treatment times.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said this exciting project could save lives and reduce disability.

“A stroke strikes the brain often without warning and changes lives in an instant,” Ms McGowan said.

“Up to 1.9 million brain cells die each minute, but with the right treatment at the right time, the damage can be stopped.

“A stroke ambulance is like an emergency department on wheels. It is equipped with the latest diagnostic technology, including a brain scanner and telemedicine equipment, enabling the specialist staff on board to make a diagnosis on scene and start treatment immediately.

“It saves time and precious brain,” she said.

Stroke Foundation has been advocating for a Stroke Ambulance research pilot in NSW as part of its ongoing efforts to improve access to time critical stroke treatment nationally. The new research project will strengthen and improve on learnings from Australia’s first and only other stroke ambulance based in Melbourne.

Launched in November 2017, the Melbourne mobile stroke unit has attended and assessed more than 1601 patients. It has slashed treatment times, delivering clot dissolving treatment 74 minutes faster than average hospital treatment times nationally.

“Stroke is always a medical emergency and developing a stroke equipped ambulance service across the country will change the course of this devastating disease for generations to come,” Ms McGowan said

Stroke Foundation NSW State Manager Rhian Paton-Kelly said she looked forward to further details of the pilot project.

“Today’s announcement is the latest step forward in ensuring the people of NSW have access to time-critical stroke treatment,’’ Ms Paton-Kelly said.

“To ensure this investment and opportunity is maximised, the people of NSW first need to know how to recognise a stroke and call triple zero (000). “We look forward to continuing to partner with the NSW Government to raise awareness of the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) message.”

F.A.S.T. stands for:

F – has the person’s face drooped?

A – Can they move their arms?

S – Is their speech slurred?

T - Time is Critical – Call 000 immediately.

The stroke ambulance pilot will be supported by the NSW Telestroke Service currently being rolled out. Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney hosts the NSW Telestroke Service. It connects clinicians in hospitals in regional and remote NSW with stroke specialists to care for people who have symptoms of stroke.