A Hoppers Crossing mother who suffered a stroke last year has been reunited with the specialist stroke team and paramedics who came to her aid.

Cherie with MSU crew
Cherie (third from left) pictured with members of the Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) team that came to her aid.

Cherie Azzopardi has met the members of the Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) from Ambulance Victoria and the Royal Melbourne Hospital who responded to her Triple Zero call for the first time since her stroke.

Last October, Cherie started having difficulty speaking, experienced weakness in her hand and her vision started to deteriorate.

The 34-year-old was home alone with her two children, aged three and five, but managed to call her mum before her stroke symptoms intensified.

Cherie’s mum arrived to find her extremely distressed, and being comforted by her five-year-old daughter, and immediately called Triple Zero (000).

The Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedics were first on scene and handled Cherie’s initial treatment before she was transferred into the care of the MSU.

A CT scan on-board the purpose-built MSU revealed Cherie was suffering from an ischaemic stroke, which occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain.

Cherie said she was administered the thrombolysis medication and once it started to take effect, she was able to start talking and moving again.

“By the time I arrived at the RMH, I could use my hand and was totally mobile,” she said.

Cherie was taken to the RMH where she spent two nights under observation.

She continues to see a speech pathologist, but thankfully there has been no long-lasting impact to her mobility. She has returned to work as a hairdresser.

Cherie and her family are eternally grateful to the MICA paramedics and the MSU who responded to her case. Because of their quick actions, excellent clinical care and medical skills, Cherie is able to celebrate her wedding next month with her long-time partner, Glenn.

“I received the best possible care. The MICA paramedics who were first on scene were so responsive and respectful, and I felt both physically and emotionally safe,” Cherie said.

“The work of the MSU crew was incredible, I was given the right care in the right way, and was a patient that was connected to the right service. I am so thankful because if all of the first responders weren’t so diligent and quick, I don’t know what sort of a mother I would be today.”

When a person experiences a stroke up to 1.9 million brain cells die every minute, so time is of the essence and every second counts.

“Time is critical when it comes to treating stroke patients,” MSU paramedic Tom Duigan said.

"By getting to these patients in the field and assessing them straight away, the MSU is able to reduce the time before the type of stroke is diagnosed, reduce the time to start treatment, and most importantly reduce the damage these events cause.

“In these cases, time saved is brain saved.”

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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