Australia has first stroke ambulance on the road

November 13, 2017
Australia’s first ever “Stroke Ambulance”, a possible game-changer in time critical stroke treatment, will take to the road in Melbourne this month.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan joined Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Health Jill Hennessy and representatives from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Ambulance Victoria, the University of Melbourne and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to officially launch the Mobile Stroke Unit today.

The Mobile Stroke Unit is a purpose built vehicle, designed to provide the quickest possible diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering a life threatening stroke.
It features a CT (Computed Tomography) scanner and will be staffed by a neurologist, stroke nurse, radiographer and Ambulance Victoria paramedics.  

Ms McGowan said with a CT brain scanner on board, assessment and treatment of stroke could begin immediately “in the field”, rather than waiting until the patient has arrived at hospital, saving precious time. 

“When stroke strikes, every minute counts. Stroke is treatable but it is a time critical medical emergency. A CT scan is needed to diagnose a stroke before the appropriate treatment can be started. Interventions such as thrombolysis (blood clot busting medication) need to be given within 4.5 hours of stroke onset. 

“If we can treat patients faster, we can give them the best possible chance of survival and recovery,’’ Ms McGowan said. 

The Mobile Stroke Unit will transfer patients to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for ongoing treatment. 

Ms McGowan was thrilled to see the exciting research trial come to fruition. 

“Stroke Foundation is proud to be a partner in delivering this game changing, life saving innovation,” she said. 

“Following a stroke, brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million a minute. Time critical medical treatments can stop this damage.

“Time saved is brain saved. Every minute counts. Faster diagnosis and treatment can save lives and reduce disability.”

Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and leading causes of disability. It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. It is estimated, Victorians will suffer more than 14,000 strokes this year alone and there are almost 120,000 stroke survivors living in the community. 

Australians are at the forefront of innovation in stroke research internationally. The results of the pilot will help shape time critical stroke treatment into the future.

The Mobile Stroke Unit has been delivered by Victoria Government in partnership with the Stroke Foundation, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Ambulance Victoria, the University of Melbourne, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the RMH Neuroscience Foundation. It has also been endorsed by the National Health and Medical Research Council
Mobile Stroke Unit facts 

• weight 5 tonne
• height  2.9 metres
• length 7.1 metres
• width  2.2 metres
• Fitted with the latest in diagnostic technology and telemedicine