Launceston locals are taking action to stop stroke and speed up access to emergency stroke treatment thanks to a Stroke Foundation program.
F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) Community Education Program, funded by the Tasmanian Government, is making an impact.
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said thousands of local residents had received information on how to recognise stroke, prevent it and take action if they suspect someone is having a stroke.
“The community has gotten behind the project. We have had F.A.S.T. signage on buses, free health checks, StrokeSafe talks to groups and business, F.A.S.T.
book marks and wallet cards distributed at health centres, pharmacies, workplaces, government buildings and more,” Ms McGowan said.
“The more people who know the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke the better. We must ensure more Tasmanians recognise a stroke when it occurs, and know how vital it is to call an ambulance.
“Stroke is a time-critical illness and faster diagnosis and treatment saves lives and results in improved quality of life.”
The F.A.S.T. test is easy to remember and involves three simple questions:
Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms – Can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.
Tasmania has the highest incidence of stroke per capita in the country and it’s estimated around 290 strokes will occur in the Bass electorate this year alone.
“Too many families continue to be devastated by stroke,” Ms McGowan said.
“Stroke strikes the brain – the human control centre – but it can be prevented, treated and beaten.
“This is why community education is so important. If we can ease the burden of stroke on the people of Launceston, it will benefit generations to come.”
Currently F.A.S.T. Community Education is being delivered in Launceston and the Huon Valley. Stroke Foundation hopes to continue the program and expand it to other areas of the state.
Ms McGowan added while the F.A.S.T. Community Education Program is making a difference, more needs to be done.
“Only 36 percent of Tasmanians with stroke are arriving at hospital within the optimal 4.5 hours window for blood clot-dissolving treatment. Arriving outside of this timeframe limits treatment options. For every minute treatment is delayed, more brain is lost,” she said.