MOBILE STROKE UNIT

THE FLOREY INSTITUTE OF NEUROSCIENCE AND MENTAL HEALTH, ROYAL MELBOURNE HOSPITAL, THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE AND AMBULANCE VICTORIA.

When the call goes out the Mobile Stroke Unit hits the road. This rapid response vehicle is the first dedicated stroke ambulance in Australia, purpose built to evaluate and treat stroke in the crucial first minutes.

A stroke happens when the supply of blood to the brain is interrupted. Stroke is a time-sensitive medical emergency. Because the brain is deprived of oxygen, every second counts.

In Australia, two thirds of stroke patients do not arrive at hospital in time for clot-busting medication, and only one third receive treatment within the critical first 60 minutes. These delays have devastating consequences – stroke is now the leading cause of disability in Australia.

On board the Mobile Stroke Unit is a team of highly trained specialists, including paramedics, a stroke nurse, radiographer and a neurologist. The vehicle is equipped with the latest diagnostic technology, including a CT scanner so the team can perform hospital grade brain scans for fast diagnosis. Telemedicine technology connects the team with hospital neurologists who can consult in real time.

A true emergency department on wheels, the Mobile Stroke Unit also carries a full range of clot-busting medications, so treatment can begin even before patients reach hospital.

For patients, the arrival of the Mobile Stroke Unit is life changing – and life saving.

The Mobile Stroke Unit is a joint collaboration between The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the University of Melbourne and Ambulance Victoria. The ambulance set up was made possible by a generous donation from leading Melbourne business figures, the Stroke Foundation and The Royal Melbourne Hospital Neurosciences Foundation.

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Illustrated by Janelle Barone