Sydney stroke ambulance – latest in urgent stroke care

More Australians will receive urgent stroke treatment after the weekend’s announcement of a new stroke ambulance for Sydney. 

For the first time in New South Wales, a modified ambulance loaded with a portable CT scanner, will take the emergency department to the patient, saving vital minutes when treating this time-critical emergency.

The NSW State Government has committed $10 million to the project as part of its upcoming budget to be announced tomorrow.

A similar vehicle has been operating on the streets of Melbourne for three years and has treated ten times the number of patients within the ‘golden hour’, compared with a conventional hospital pathway. It has shaved-off an average of 41minutes from diagnosis to treatment.

Stroke needs to be treated as quickly as possible, so an accurate diagnosis is essential. The on-board CT scanner tells the medical team whether the stroke is caused by a bleed or a clot – at the scene of the stroke. As well, telemedicine ensures a diagnosis can be confirmed and treatment can begin – before travelling to the emergency department.

“The results can be quite extraordinary,” says Professor Stephen Davis, a neurologist who travels on Melbourne’s mobile stroke unit. “If a clot-busting drug is given to the patient within a strict window of time, the patient can make an excellent recovery. This is all about reducing life-long disability and mortality,” he said.

Prof Davis and his colleague, neurologist Professor Geoffrey Donnan, are global pioneers in stroke treatment. Together, they established the Australian Stroke Alliance to improve urgent stroke care, designing brain scanners for road, helicopter and jet ambulances, and supported by digital telehealth.

“We certainly welcome this announcement. It is a tremendous signal to other states and territories that urgent stroke care should be available to all Australians, especially those in rural and remote environments,” said Prof Donnan. “We look forward to working with our NSW colleagues as we standardise urgent stroke care across Australia.”

Stroke Alliance partner, David Waters, the chief executive of the Council of Ambulance Authorities, welcomed the news: “This decision means that hundreds, if not thousands of patients in Sydney will now return home to their families to continue their lives without the long-term debilitating effects of stroke. It sets a great example for state ambulance services to embrace Australian ingenuity – while saving lives,” Mr Waters said.

For interviews or footage of the Melbourne stroke ambulance at work, contact Amanda Place, director of communications: 0411 204 526.

www.austrokealliance.org.au. @AusStroke