Acting FAST to save lives


THE AMBULANCE service in Limerick is joining other services around the country to double up as mobile billboards in a new campaign to help reduce stroke deaths.

The vehicles have been wrapped to promote the Irish Heart Foundation’s Act F.A.S.T. campaign on stroke warning signs, following a unique collaboration between the National Ambulance Service and the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke.

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Since its launch two years ago, the charity-funded Act F.A.S.T. campaign has contributed to an increase of more than 400  in the numbers of stroke patients receiving potentially life-saving clot-busting treatment known as thrombolysis since its launch just over two years ago

The F.A.S.T. signs are: Face – has the face fallen on one side? Can they smile? Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there? Speech – is their speech slurred? Time – time to call 999/112 if you see any one of these signs.

“The FAST campaign has had a huge life-saving and quality of life impact in every corner of Ireland,” said Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, Chris Macey. “But the reality is that potentially life-saving treatments like thrombolysis are no use, if patients do not get to hospital in time to receive them. Time means brain and every delay in recognising symptoms ultimately delays the patient’s access to vital treatment. In recent months stroke physicians have been telling us of a significant decline in the numbers getting to hospital in time to be saved”.

The HSE National Stroke Programme estimates that the improved thrombolysis rate in Ireland is resulting in significantly improved outcomes for around 200 patients a year and has reduced the numbers requiring institutional care by 140 per annum. About 10,000 people suffer a stroke in Ireland annually and about 2,000 of these die from it. In Limerick, 106 people lost their lives to stroke in 2010.