Stroke Awareness - Get help FAST

Stroke Awareness

From left: Charlotte Beer, Occupational Therapist (Acute Stroke Team); Bronwen Pepperell, Clinical Nurse Specialist (Acute Stroke Team); Gabby Chitty, Physiotherapist (Acute Stroke Team); Caroline Prankerd, Fulford Radiology; Cam Gillespie, stroke patient; Stephanie Besseling, Clinical Nurse Manager Intensive Care Unit; Julia Redwood, Speech Language Therapist; Louise Easton, Fulford Radiology; Susie Konijn, Dietitian (Acute Stroke Team);  Elmien Feldtmann, Social Worker (Acute Stroke Team); James Ferguson, Medical Registrar; and Bhavesh Lallu, Geriatrician.

04 April 2014

The most important message to remember is that if you suspect that you or someone has had a stroke get help FAST.

And that’s exactly what Cam Gillespie (53) did when he woke up one morning and felt confused.

‘I had been away for the weekend and got up Monday morning and just sort of felt a bit confused. Just a bit unusual,” he said.

‘My wife asked me to give her a hand pulling the bed up and I must have looked a bit blank. She said are you alright? I said I don’t know and she straight away called the ambulance, even though I didn’t really know why.”

“Some people might just stay in bed or rest but she called the ambulance and it was the best thing.

“I was in the Emergency Department within 45 minutes, having a CT scan and the specialist stroke team stepped in straight away. It was amazing,’ said Gillespie.

“Those doctors and people were running. They were so focused and so awesome and pretty soon I was having thrombolysis. I couldn’t speak but I remember everything about that day.”

“I lost my speech totally for a while but with the therapy and support I was back to work in three weeks and fully in control of my body,” he said.

“I can’t tell you how great that team is and how they helped me. All I can say is don’t muck around and get help FAST.” 

The FAST message is an acronym that is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke.  It stands for:

Face – SMILE (is one side drooping?)
Arms – RAISE BOTH ARMS (is one side weak?)
Speech – SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (are words jumbled, or slurred?)
Time – Act fast and call 111 and get to hospital FAST

Stroke thrombolysis is new to Taranaki Base Hospital and is a potential treatment option for carefully selected stroke patients said Geriatrician Dr Bhavesh Lallu.

“There are systems in place which assists the clinical team to identify patients who may benefit from thrombolysis,” said Dr Lallu. Thrombolysis is the clinical term for this treatment, it is actually a clot busting drug which is administered through the vein. 

“There are a number of teams within the hospital that are involved in a patient receiving this treatment from symptoms starting and within the strict 4 ½ hour timeframe.  This is why the FAST message is being promoted nationally during stroke awareness week to help people to recognise early the symptoms of stroke and to seek immediate medical assessment,” he said.


For further information please call

Sue Carrington
Media Adviser
Ph 021 367 789

Last updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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