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FAST action to help Niagara patients survive the effects of stroke

Posted Oct 29th, 2018

FAST action to help Niagara patients survive the effects of stroke

On World Stroke Day, Niagara Emergency Medical Services, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada and Niagara Health are teaming up to ensure that more lives are saved from the effects of stroke. 

Niagara EMS will raise awareness of the signs of stroke and the importance of acting quickly by placing decals with the signs of stroke acronym ‘FAST’ on their ambulances. 

The FAST acronym is an easy way to remember the five signs of stroke: Face: Is it drooping? Arms: Can you raise both? Speech: Is it slurred or jumbled? Time: To call 911 right away.

The ability to recognize the FAST signs of stroke and calling 9-1-1 can mean the difference between life and death, or the difference between a full recovery and lasting disability.  Niagara District Stroke Centre, based at Niagara Health’s Greater Niagara General Hospital, was recently recognized for the speed of its care.

Kevin Smith, Chief of Niagara EMS, is proud to collaborate with Heart & Stroke and Niagara Health on this important, life-saving messaging. “These decals on our ambulances will act as a constant reminder to the public whenever they see them. Paramedics will ensure patients suffering a stroke are transported to the hospital in the timeliest manner, however, this is not possible without family members, friends and the general public recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and contacting 9-1-1 right away. Through this collaborative approach, we hope to increase awareness and reaction time in the event of a stroke.” 

“We know that public awareness increases in communities that have FAST decals on their vehicles. We are pleased to know that people will be reminded of the FAST signs of stroke every time they see a Region of Niagara ambulance,” said Karen Trainoff, Heart & Stroke Director of Ontario Mission. “Our objective is to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live or how old they are, know and remember the FAST signs of stroke.”

“I’ve heard that showing FAST on TV and in advertisements has proven to be effective and would support it being on all ambulances in the Niagara Region,” said stroke survivor Laura Stronghill.

“This is a great opportunity to increase the number of our stroke patients who have access to life-altering treatment,” said Niagara District Stroke Centre Co-ordinator Leanne Hammond. “Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke are paramount to minimizing the effects of stroke in our patients.”

Stroke by the numbers

  • 62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.
  • 83 per cent of people who have a stroke and make it to hospital will now survive.
  • Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute during stroke.
  • Each year, more than 13,000 Canadians die from stroke.             
  • Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of acquired adult disability.
  • Stroke can happen at any age. Stroke among people under 65 is increasing and stroke risk factors are increasing for young adults.
  • Half of Canadians report having a close friend or family member who survived a stroke.

Niagara Health System