Donald MacLellan, General Manager, CKEMS; Lori Marshall, President & CEO, CKHA; Linda Butler, Coordinator District Stroke Centre and Cardiac Clinics Chatham-Kent, CKHA; Jarrod Prieur, Clinical Manager of Rehabilitation, CKHA; and Rod Hetherington, Operations Manager, CKEMS (CKHA)

June is Stroke Month and this year Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), Chatham-Kent Emergency Medical Services (CKEMS) and Heart & Stroke are teaming up to ensure that more lives are saved from the effects of stroke.

CKHA and CKEMS will be helping to raise awareness of the signs of a stroke and the importance of acting quickly by placing decals with the acronym ‘FAST’ in CKHA’s patient waiting rooms and on CKEMS ambulances. The FAST decal educates the community of the signs of stroke and encourages individuals to seek emergency care right away if they encounter stroke symptoms.

The FAST acronym stands for:

Face: is it drooping?

Arms: can you raise both?

Speech: is it slurred or jumbled?

Time: to call 9-1-1 right away.

Stroke is a medical emergency. The ability to recognize the FAST signs of stroke and act fast by calling 9-1-1 can mean the difference between life and death, or the difference between a full recovery and lasting disability.

“Every time our ambulances hit the pavement, the FAST decals will give a crucial reminder to our community of the warning signs of stroke,” said Donald MacLellan, General Manager, CKEMS. “We are proud to be among the first communities in Ontario to roll-out this important initiative that will help save and improve lives.”

“Recognizing the symptoms and warning signs of a stroke is key to saving lives and ensuring the best possible recovery for our patients,” says Lori Marshall, President & CEO, CKHA “Initiatives such as placing FAST signs throughout the hospital are important for public education and align with CKHA’s vision: Together, growing a healthier community.”

Stroke is the number three killer of Canadians, and is the leading cause of disability in Canada. There are an estimated 62,000 strokes in Canada each year; that is equal to one stroke every nine minutes. More than 80 per cent of individuals who have a stroke and make it to the hospital will survive, making public education about the signs of stroke imperative.

“CKHA has a higher rate of hospitalized stroke events than the provincial average and the highest rate in the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network,” says Linda Butler, Coordinator, District Stroke Center and Cardiac Clinics Chatham-Kent, CKHA. “Our goal is to help our community recognize the FAST signs of stroke, no matter how minor. There have been many exciting advances in stroke treatment, but calling 9-1-1 remains the first step.”

Heart & Stroke Director of Ontario Mission, Karen Trainoff, is delighted to expand the reach of the FAST campaign through this partnership with CKHA and CKEMS. “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 Chatham-Kent ambulance and are at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance,” said Ms. Trainoff. “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.”

Stroke Facts:

– A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function.

– 62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.

– 83 per cent of those who have a stroke and make it to hospital will survive.

– Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute during a 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.

For more information about the signs of stroke visit: www.heartandstroke.ca/FAST.

To learn more about the Chatham-Kent District Stroke Centre visit: http://www.swostroke.ca/venue/chatham-kent/.