Monday was World Stroke Day and Bluewater Health is working to emphasize the importance of early detection and use of EMS in stroke emergencies.
Stroke is a treatable medical emergency where every minute can have a significant impact on a patient’s survival and recovery. Together with Lambton County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Bluewater Health is educating the public via F.A.S.T. decals on every ambulance in the County. F.A.S.T. is an acronym to help people identify the symptoms of a stroke: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call 911 right away. Bluewater Health in Sarnia is designated as the District Stroke Centre for Sarnia-Lambton, and is one of 11 Stroke Networks in Ontario.
“Time is critical. The sooner people access medical help following the signs and symptoms of stroke the better the chance of a good outcome. Patients who access a designated stroke centre within four and a half hours of having a stroke may be eligible for tPA, a clot-busting drug,” noted Paula Gilmore, director, Rehabilitation, Stroke/Vascular and Dialysis.
Endovascular Treatment (EVT) is a specialized procedure that may be an option for some patients even up to 24 hours of stroke symptom onset. EVT is a treatment that removes large stroke-causing blood clots from the brain.
Ted St. Germain is a Sarnia resident who experienced this first hand when he suffered a life-threatening stroke earlier this month. Recognizing his stroke symptoms, St. Germain’s wife called 9-1-1 right away, putting into play a rapid response from Bluewater Health and its partners.
EMS rushed St. Germain to Bluewater Health in Sarnia – which is Lambton County’s District Stroke Centre – where St. Germain was assessed quickly. The Bluewater Health team activated an emergency Telestroke consultation via the Ontario Telemedicine Network and CritiCall which connected them right away with the on-call stroke neurologist Dr. David Gladstone based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
Dr. Gladstone took one look at St. Germain’s CT brain scan and determined that he had a critical blockage of blood flow in the basilar artery at the base of his brain. Without the right treatment, this type of stroke usually becomes rapidly fatal or causes permanent severe disability. Dr. Gladstone advised treatment with the clot-busting drug tPA and immediately arranged for him to undergo an emergency Endovascular Treatment (EVT) procedure by the neuro-interventional stroke team in London, Ontario. The treatment was successful in opening the blocked artery, thereby saving his brain and enabling him to recover. St. Germain was literally cured and discharged the next day.
“It was a truly spectacular outcome”, said Dr. Gladstone. “This was a perfect example of successful teamwork within our coordinated provincial stroke system.”
St. Germain recognizes how fortunate he is to have survived his stroke. “At every step along the way, I received exceptional care. Today, I know that I am alive and well thanks to my stroke team and the exceptional care they provided.”