For Anthony, what started out as a regular trip to his local cafe, quickly became a terrifying series of events.

As he looked down at his right arm he knew something was wrong. It had gone completely numb and he couldn’t move his hand.

Lucky for him, the staff noticed something wasn’t quite right and quickly called 000. Given the nature of Anthony’s symptoms, the Mobile Stroke unit (MSU) was also dispatched.

The MSU is a purpose-built, 5.3 tonne ambulance that has an on board CT scanner capable of imaging the patient’s brain to detect the type of stroke they are experiencing. This means assessment and treatment can begin immediately, rather than after they arrived at the hospital.

The 82-year-old was treated by Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) radiographer Louise Murray, Louise’s job on board the MSU is to perform the brain scan on the patient.

“I had only recently started working on the MSU and this was the first scan I had performed,” Louise said.

Dr Ashley Park, RMH Neurology Fellow, was then able to provide clot busting treatment, which instantly relieved Anthony’s symptoms.

Anthony, who is a doctor of music and pianist, left hospital within two days with no disability or side effects.

After meeting the crew that saved his life he was speechless and very humbled, “thank you all so much, you not only saved my life but also my career and my passion, I am so grateful,” he said.

Anthony and MSU crew
Anthony with the mobile stroke unit (MSU) ambulance crew

Anthony’s story is a timely reminder of how important it is to call an ambulance at any sign of stroke symptoms, when it comes to strokes time is so important.

Skye Coote, RMH Nurse lead on the MSU explained that every 15 minutes treatment is delayed can add an extra month of disability for the patient.

Signs of stroke

Remember 'FAST':

  • Facial droop
  • Arm weakness on one side
  • Slurred or difficult speech
  • Time critical

“If you or a family member have any signs of stroke, call an ambulance. Every minute treatment is delayed could be an extra month in rehab, away from your family and friends,” Skye said.

The theme of this year’s Stroke week is ‘Act fast to enjoy precious moments’, and Anthony’s story is a reminder of how important the small things are, that he can continue to play music and enjoy what he loves most because he was treated so quickly.

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