Victorian stroke patients will have the very best chance of survival when Australia’s first-ever dedicated stroke ambulance hits the road later this month, assessing patients on the spot to speed up treatment and save lives.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy today officially launched the specially equipped ambulance at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) will save more lives by providing the quickest possible diagnosis and very best treatment for patients suffering a deadly stroke, before they even reach the hospital. Time is critical when responding to a stroke – every second counts.
The purpose-built, 5.3 tonne ambulance has an on board CT scanner capable of imaging the patient’s brain to detect the type of stroke they are experiencing to immediately start assessment and treatment, rather than after they arrived at the hospital.
The ambulance is also crewed with a stroke nurse, radiographer and two paramedics, with a stroke neurologist on staff at the hospital to receive and analyse scans. This will mean patients will receive faster treatments such as clot busting thrombolysis, which is required in four out of five strokes.
The stroke ambulance – which will travel within a 20km radius of the Royal Melbourne Hospital - will provide a more efficient road transfer to hospital, with patients receiving a seamless transition and connected care. It is expected the stroke ambulance will treat up to almost 3,000 patients a year.
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in Australia, and causes more deaths than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
About one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime and in 2014, nearly 3,000 Victorians died from a stroke. Victorian hospitals treat more than 14,000 people for stroke and related conditions each year.
The trial is part of research led by the Royal Melbourne Hospital with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the University of Melbourne and Ambulance Victoria. The ambulance set up was made possible by a generous donation from leading Melbourne business figures, the Stroke Foundation and the Royal Melbourne Hospital Neurosciences Foundation.
Director Neurology and the Melbourne Brain Centre at The Royal Melbourne Hospital Professor Stephen Davis said “when time is brain, this specially equipped ambulance will mean stroke patients will have the specialist treatments they need much sooner.”
The Mobile Stroke Unit will begin treating and transporting stroke patients from Monday 20 November.