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Atlanta ambulance designed to detect, treat strokes during transport

The Grady Memorial Hospital Mobile Stroke Unit aims to save crucial time by immediately administering treatment to patients

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Grady Memorial Hospital’s Mobile Stroke Unit at its ribbon-cutting ceremony last year. Over the past year, the unit has responded to approximately 880 calls.

Photo/Grady Memorial Hospital

By EMS1 Staff

ATLANTA — A specialized ambulance equipped with a CT scanner and anti-clotting drugs aims to assess and treat stroke patients as quickly as possible.

The Mobile Stroke Unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta is dispatched through 911 and is designed to assist stroke patients more efficiently than a traditional ambulance, according to GPB News.

The faster a stroke can be treated, the more likely the patient is to avoid permanent paralysis, or death, according to Dr. Michael Frankel, director of the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center at Grady Memorial.

“As long as that artery in the brain is blocked, the longer it’s blocked, the more likely there is to be permanent damage that will limit the potential for recovery,” Frankel said.

In addition to the CT scanner, the mobile unit has two-way video so doctors at the hospital can help assess patients, Frankel said. The ambulance also stocks Alteplase, which reduces blood clots.

“The faster we can give the drug and the earlier we give it after someone starts having stroke symptoms, the better the drug works,” Frankel said.

Currently, the unit only responds to calls within Fulton County between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., which is when most strokes occur.

The ambulance was funded through the neuroscience center’s Marcus Stroke Network, which was established in 2018 with a $15 million grant from the Marcus Foundation. In its first year, the unit has responded to about 880 calls.

The network hopes to add another stroke ambulance soon, in order to reach more patients.