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Andy is several years younger than me, and much fitter, so it came as a shock to hear that he’d been struck down by a stroke. As you read his personal account, I want you to think about how quickly you would have identified his symptoms as being a stroke?

At the end of this article, I’ll give you a simpler way of identifying a stroke. Identifying a stroke as early as possible will enable you to call 999 sooner. And the quicker the patient receives specialist treatment the less brain damage will occur.

On Friday I was cycling to a dentist appointment when I experienced terrible double vision and cycled off the path. I thought I'd got a bit of 'ice cream head' leaving the house too quickly and not wearing a buff, so, being an ex-adventure racer, I closed one eye and carried on. After the routine check up, I struggled to leave the chair and my dentist told me to sit there a minute, as maybe I'd tried to stand too fast. He was watching me and got his mirror - "Andy do you normally look like this?" was the start of a roller coaster 4 hours; my left eye had dropped. He called 999 and initially the first responder and ambulance crew weren't too sure what to make of me. I was lucid, but had double vision and my face was weak. They decided to take me to Arrowe Park (about an hour after my first symptom). In the ambulance I became incoherent, I couldn't coordinate my left arm movements and my double vision was to the point of hallucinating. I heard them radioing ahead and I was met by the hyper acute stroke team in A&E, where (I thought) I was perfectly lucid again... I think it was less than 25 minutes between arrival, CT scan and thrombolysis treatment starting. It was just as well, because during my next episode I had left side paralysis, incoherent speech and had closed my eyes, as I couldn't make anything out. I was probably like that for about an hour, before the clot busters started working and I could lift my arm again and speak clearly. A few hours later I could see my phone again and had pretty much recovered. The MRI at 24 hours confirmed "a small focal acute infarction in the right thalamus" (ie a stroke!). I'm physically fine now, but have been warned I could be very tired for the next few months. Thanks to Allport Dental Surgery North West Ambulance Service Arrowe Park Hospital Ward 23 Hyper Acute Stroke Unit, all of whom looked after me brilliantly and led to the positive outcome I have today. Remember BE FAST - if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone!

 

Thanks Andy for that traumatic personal account. It really can happen to anyone, to any member of our family, to any work colleague, so we need to be 100% sure of all the possible symptoms.

 

FAST is not a good enough acronym. It only helps people remember 3 of the key symptoms.

  • Facial droop
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech problems

 

BE FAST is not a good enough acronym. It only helps people remember 5 of the key symptoms.

  • Balance problems
  • Eye problems
  • Facial droop
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech problems

 

The missing signs/symptoms are

  • Intense headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden onset of one-sided paralysis
  • Unconsciousness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in understanding what others are saying

 

Any one of these signs/symptoms could be a stroke, it might be something else, so

let’s keep this really simple….

 

Anything that suggests the brain is not working properly could be a stroke!

Call 999

 

 As a first aider, or friend, or family member, your role is not to diagnose, it’s to recognise that there is a problem and manage it. In this case the brain injured person needs to be in a specialist hospital that has a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU). Call 999 and follow the NHS advice from the call-taker and use your training from your First Aid course.

As a paramedic we had a saying…”Time is brain”. The sooner the person gets to a HASU the more brain function will be saved. 

Thanks for reading and stay safe.

 

Feedback from Previous Attendees

 

  • Really enjoyable and informative course, delivered expertly. Support materials and teaching aids were great. Thanks
  • A great course, really enjoyed it. Many thanks.
  • A great course very safely delivered given the covid restrictions. Still able to think about incidents and be better prepared for what to do if they occur.
  • In depth training
  • Scenarios were very useful and informative, especially the reflective learning.
  • Another great day! Really enjoyed it. Many Thanks.
  • Well run and fun course despite the challenges of running in covid.
  • Strange times with Covid but course was well executed and great use of additional tools to support. 😊
  • Amazing course. I feel much more confident. Amazing trainer. I think this is the first training session I haven’t fallen asleep or even wanted to. Team Andrew 😊
  • Great course. Lots of work and commmitment from Decisive First Aid. Extra miles done for us to enjoy and to like the course. Very motivating.
  • The Instructor Andy was brilliant. He presented himself and course really well.
  • Very good course. Andrew was engaging and it was an interactive course, all done in a covid secure way.
  • Great course/Great Teacher – Would highly recommend.
  • Trainer delivered the course very well, kept us engaged.
  • Very well run – feel the course met my expectations and I feel confident to deal with issues.
  • Andrew explained things very clearly and was enjoyable to listen to. Just the right amount of information for a one day course.
  • Great course, good use of slides and practical exercises.
  • I particularly liked the friendly relaxed attitude.
  • It was interactive with real life examples.
  • I loved the practical method and I love learning more about helping people.
  • I learned new things I am confident will come in handy one day and hopefully be able to help someone should the situation present itself.
  • Really happy with the content we covered.
  • A very good day, enjoyable and informative.
  • Very organised event. Professional
  • Excellent course. Excellent tutor.
  • Very well delivered. Excellent equipment with a chance to try everything. Learning needs met. Thanks
  • Lovely First Aid course
  • Attended Emergency First Aid at Work course with Andrew in Stevenage this was an excellent course, very informative and all practical skills assessed.
  • As a person with dyslexia all possible assistance was given to me without any difficulty.
  • I liked the use of props to demonstrate.
  • Very much informative.
  • I particularly liked how the training linked to our own work environment. Very Interesting and easy to follow.
  • Andrew explained everything clearly and made the whole course interesting throughout.
  • I liked the scenarios.
  • I particularly liked the hands on training
  • Really good course.
  • Very informative. I feel I am prepared as I can be for if such a situation should arise. Fantastic Training.
  • Feel confident that if ever needed to put into practice/real incident, I would be happy to do so.
  • Good course, easy to follow.
  • The bespoke nature of the course and the overall delivery.
  • I particularly liked the experience of the trainer and relating to real life situations.
  • Great course, good use of slides and practical exercises.
  • I particularly liked the friendly relaxed attitude.
  • It was interactive with real life examples.
  • I loved the practical method and I love learning more about helping people.
  • I learned new things I am confident will come in handy one day and hopefully be able to help someone should the situation present itself.
  • Really happy with the content we covered.
  • A very good day, enjoyable and informative.

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