More Lives Saved Thanks To The Stroke Ambulance

18 November 2019

More Victorian stroke patients are surviving and returning home thanks to Australia’s first ever dedicated stroke ambulance.

Minister for Ambulance Services Jenny Mikakos today joined paramedics, stroke nurses and radiographers at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to mark two years since the revolutionary stroke ambulance first hit the road. The Andrews Labor Government has invested $7.5 million to get the stroke ambulance on the road.

In two years, the stroke ambulance has been dispatched to 2,579 suspected stroke cases, with 1,025 patients treated and assessed. It has performed 478 cutting-edge CT scans and administered 108 patients with clot-dissolving medication for thrombolysis.

One in seven thrombolysis patients were treated within the first 60 minutes of stroke onset when symptoms were identified early. For one in 12 patients, it would have been too late for treatment if it wasn’t for the stroke ambulance.

When a person experiences a stroke, time is critical and every second counts. That’s why the stroke ambulance is so important – it allows patients to be assessed on the spot and on the road, speeding up treatment and saving lives.

The purpose-built, 5.3 tonne ambulance has a CT scanner on board capable of imaging a patient’s brain on the spot, and detecting the type of stroke they are having so that treatment can begin straight away, even before arriving at hospital.

The crew features a stroke nurse, radiographer and highly-trained paramedics who are able to start treatment such as clot-busting thrombolysis while on scene. It can be dispatched either when an initial Triple Zero call is made, or if requested by an attending paramedic.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability in Australia, and causes more deaths than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer among men.

In 2014, almost 3,000 Victorians died following a stroke, with Victorian hospitals treating more than 14,000 patients from stroke and related conditions each year.

The ambulance is a Melbourne Mobile Stroke Unit project – and is at the forefront of research being done by Melbourne Health, Ambulance Victoria, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and the University of Melbourne.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services Jenny Mikakos

“It’s two years since the stroke ambulance first hit the road, and already it’s saved many Victorians’ lives.”

“When someone has a stroke, time is critical and every second counts. The stroke ambulance means that specialist treatment and assessment can begin on the road and straight away.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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