Australia’s first Stroke Ambulance will provide patients with a quicker diagnosis and treatment when it begins operation on 20 November 2017.
“Time is critical when it comes to treating stroke patients,” said the project leader, Intensive Care Paramedic Lindsay Bent.
“By getting to these patients in the field and assessing them straight away, we will be able to reduce the time before the type of stroke is diagnosed, reduce the time to commence treatment, and most importantly reduce the damage these events cause. In these cases, time saved is brain saved.”
The Melbourne Mobile Stroke Unit (MMSU) will be based at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and operate within 20 kilometres of the hospital, covering a population of about 1.7 million people.
The ambulance’s five-person crew is made up of a stroke nurse, radiographer and stroke neurologist from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and two Ambulance Victoria paramedics.
The purpose-built vehicle has a computerized tomography (CT) scanner that is capable of imaging the patient’s brain to detect the type of stroke they are experiencing.
Assessment and treatment of a patient can begin immediately. This includes providing prompt clot-busting treatment (thrombolysis for ischaemic stroke), which is required in four out of five strokes, rather than requiring the patient to go to hospital for assessment and then treatment.
Mr Bent said the MMSU crew expected to treat an average of three stroke patients each day.
The ambulance will undergo a four-year trial, which includes world-leading research projects between the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the University of Melbourne and Ambulance Victoria.
The vehicle is larger than a normal ambulance, and weighs 5.3 tonnes. It will operate Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.