Ambulance Service highlights need for FAST action

15,000 people in Scotland suffer from stroke every year.
15,000 people in Scotland suffer from stroke every year.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has released a brand new film to coincide with World Stroke Day (October 29) to highlight the need for fast action when it comes to a suspected stroke.

Around 15,000 people in Scotland suffer from stroke every year.

Originally conceived as a training film for the Service’s Paramedics and Technicians, the film has been released with the aim of increasing awareness amongst the general public of what to do when they suspect somebody has had a stroke and why they need to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Featuring Ambulance Paramedics Kris McLean and Craig Young who are based at the Service’s Edinburgh City Ambulance Station; the film shows them carry out the FAST test which comprises four separate indicators relating to the face, arms, speech and time; and which takes less than a minute to do. If any part of the FAST test is positive, then the patient is deemed as being FAST positive and will be taken to the hospital by ambulance, where the pre-alerted stroke team will be waiting on them.

The film was first shown at the Scottish Stroke Care Audit General Meeting in Edinburgh in August where it’s realistic depiction of a young female stroke patient being treated according to the Scottish Ambulance Service National Stroke Pathway and transferred to hospital, won praise. Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland realised its potential and proposed that the film be made public, following a few edits, to make it suitable for a non-medical audience.

Craig Henderson, Stroke Manager of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “Stroke is a medical emergency. It is the third biggest cause of death and the most common cause of life altering disability in Scotland. We need as many people as possible to know what a stroke looks like and just as importantly, what to do when they think somebody has had one, so we can save more lives and improve outcomes for more patients. Our frontline staff have all viewed the film and it’s fantastic that Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland realised the potential of the film and that we are now releasing it to a wider audience. “

Craig Young, an Ambulance Paramedic who appears in the film, commented: “I’ve attended numerous stroke patients over the years and know how devastating it is for everybody involved - patients, their families and friends. Myself and my colleague Kris McLean were more than happy to take part and to show not just how we do the FAST test but also the speed at which we work when we suspect a stroke. In the film we are literally in the patient’s house for a couple of minutes as time is everything when it comes to stroke. The sooner we can get the patient to hospital, the better their chances are of a successful outcome.”

Mark O’Donnell, CEO of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: “This new film highlights the urgency involved in recognising the signs and symptoms of a stroke and taking action to get help. The longer the gap between the onset of a stroke and treatment, the more likely you are to die or suffer major permanent disability. Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland was very keen to support making this film originally aimed at paramedics, available to a wider audience.”

The film can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/184315317/5a91cd211d