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Santa Monica Fire Department, UCLA Health Launch California's First Mobile Stroke Unit


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By Lookout Staff

September 19, 2017 -- California's first mobile stroke unit will be deployed in Santa Monica under a joint program between the City's Fire Department and UCLA Health, SMFD officials announced last week.

The Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) Pilot Program, which is part of a Los Angeles County mobile stroke study, responds to 911 calls for service involving a possible stroke.

"The project uses a modified ambulance equipped with a mobile CT scanner to diagnose and start treating stroke patients while they are still en-route to the hospital," Fire Department officials said.

The MSU is staffed by a physician, two nurses and a CT scan technician from UCLA and a SMFD Firefighter Paramedic.

Mobile stroke units have expanded across the world after the first unit was deployed in Germany seven years ago. There are now 14 units operating in the U.S., none of them in California.

"Not only will this be the first mobile stroke unit in the state but thanks to the generous support of Arline and Henry Gluck, it will be the first in the nation to be supported by a public-private partnership," officials said in a statement.

The $1.46 million pilot program was approved in June by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The funding comes from the County of Los Angeles Measure B, a parcel tax funding source dedicated to supporting emergency and trauma services.

"There will be no delay or change in emergency response protocols as a result of the pilot," Fire Department officials said.

It is "vitally important" for a stroke victim to begin medication within the crucial first hour after a stroke, experts said.

"By restoring blood flow to the brain before a patient arrives at the hospital, mobile stroke units can save lives and prevent long-term brain damage and disability," officials said.

The Mobile Stroke Unit will be in service in Santa Monica for approximately 2 years. To recognize signs of a stroke the public is encouraged to learn, FAST, Facial droop, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.


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