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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Increasing stroke awareness

In cases of stroke, public awareness can go a long way towards preventing long-term damage

By Arthur Hsieh

According to a recent study published in the journal Stroke, African Americans experiencing stroke symptoms are more likely to call family and friends for help than 911. Possible reasons for this, according to the research, are embarrassment and a lack of awareness about the danger of stroke symptoms.

Thought it sometimes seems the public calls 911 for very minor complaints, on occasion there are significant delays for very serious ones.

It's been shown over the years that heart attack cases, much of the delay to definitive care is by the patient waiting to call for help, or driving him or herself to the hospital.

This study shows that in cases of stroke, what people say they do, and what actually happens, are not the same. This undoubtedly contributes to the ultimate outcome of the patient, since stopping or reversing the signs of a stroke are also time-dependent.

Once again, we can help with this. Your role as the first step toward medical intervention provides a platform to give critical information about strokes to the community.

Some facts might include:

  • A list of stroke signs and symptoms
  • The ramifications of delaying care
  • Why calling for an ambulance is beneficial compared to private transport
  • Which hospitals are capable of providing interventional care

Simple leaflets or flyers can get the word out, cost very little and may be effective in promoting greater awareness about a condition that can be reversible.


About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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