Q: I live close to the hospital, so is it better for me to drive my family member to the ER if I think they had a stroke or should I call 911?
One of the most important things to remember is that time is of the essence when it comes to stroke. Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) is a Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center and provide award-winning stroke care, but time is crucial! Therapies to treat a stroke must happen within a set period of time after the stroke has happened or they’re not as effective. When you call 911, our emergency medical personal connect with our MMMC Emergency Room to prepare our team for your visit. In the ambulance, they’ll collect your medical information, take your vitals, and take other steps to ensure you can be fast-tracked to the appropriate care team and treatments when you arrive at the ER.
Remember the acronym “BE-FAST” to recognize a stroke. BE-FAST stands for: Balance, Eyes, Facial droop, Arm weakness, Speech— Time to call 911. Take notice if someone suddenly becomes unstable or loses coordination, this could be a loss of balance. Be aware of a sudden loss of vision, blurry vision, or trouble with eyesight. Facial droop is a classic sign of stroke. Check if one side of the person’s face is drooping or feels numb. Ask them to smile and watch to see if their smile is lopsided. Arm or leg weakness on one side of the body is another sign of stroke. Someone may suddenly have a hard time holding objects in one hand, ask them to raise both arms and see if they have trouble raising one side. Slurred speech or difficulty speaking, or understanding can also happen with stroke. Ask them to repeat a simple sentence, they may slur their speech, mumble, or not be able to speak at all. Finally, T is for time, time to call 9-1-1. The signs and symptoms of stroke can sometimes be subtle but will come on suddenly. You must take immediate action, please don’t wait to see if the signs and symptoms will resolve on their own.
When someone is having a stroke, every second counts. If you recognize the warning signs and symptoms, don’t wait, call 911 immediately.