In a community educational endeavor, dozens of F.A.S.T. vehicle poster decals displaying stroke symptom awareness were recently donated by St. Luke's Health to local EMS agencies in six Houston area counties.
The community awareness initiative is taking place in Brazoria, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, Montgomery, Waller county EMS departments, as well as the Clear Lake region. Emergency vehicles on the road are already displaying the decals.
The decals were given to St. Luke's by the American Heart Association (AHA), which produced the poster decals through a grant from Covidian Neurovascular for the promotion of stroke education.
“The poster decals are part of a community education project by St. Luke's, in conjunction with local county EMS services,” said Jose Suarez, MD, head of Vascular Neurology & Neurocritical Care, CHI Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center. “We will be reviewing the data from several counties to monitor the number of 911 calls they receive for potential strokes, so that hopefully we see an increase in calls after the decals are viewed by the public.”
When a stroke strikes, time lost is brain lost, according to the AHA. Strokes are the third killer in the United States, yet many people are unaware they are having a stroke or how to recognize the symptoms.
The F.A.S.T. acronym stands for the four warning signs and symptoms to spot a stroke, and potentially save a life:
Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time to Call 911 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.
“The public's understanding of the symptoms of stroke is lacking. We hope that these decals will add a significant level of education in the community so that people can identify the symptoms of stroke early and call 911,” said Lisa Camp, EMS Chief, Friendswood VFD EMS. “Time and time again, we see people waiting too long when they have symptoms of stroke because they don't recognize the symptoms. All the evidence shows that the earlier we can recognize stroke, the better the outcome, because there's still an opportunity to treat them.”
To learn to spot the warning signs of a stroke, visit www.strokeassociation.org or call 1-888-4-stroke, and act quickly.