The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) recognizes May as Stroke Awareness Month, and this week (May 21 – 27) as Annual EMS Week. In combination, DPH recognizes that without Emergency Medical Services, treating stroke quickly – critical to preventing permanent brain damage – would not be possible.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Georgia, but quick recognition of stroke symptoms and fast treatment can prevent death and disability.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke are:
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg
- Sudden confusion
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble with vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking
- Dizziness or loss of coordination
- Sudden severe headache
If you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. EMS will assess the patient and begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. Transporting by ambulance reduces the amount of time it takes to receive a confirmed diagnosis and definitive care at the appropriate hospital.
“The longer the delay in treatment, the greater the risk of permanent brain damage,” says Keith Wages, director of EMS and Trauma, Georgia Department of Public Health. “Simply put, time lost is brain lost. Every minute counts during a stroke.”
If you think someone is having a stroke. Act F.A.S.T. is a simple evaluation of the person’s symptoms:
F — Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A — Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S — Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T — Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
EMS advises that an important part of stroke assessment is determining when the patient was last known to be well. The stroke treatments that work best are available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms.