Eleven emergency ambulances around the country, including one in Longford, are doubling up as mobile billboards in a new departure to help reduce stroke deaths through Ireland’s first ever advertising campaign using emergency vehicles.
They have been wrapped to promote the Irish Heart Foundation’s Act F.A.S.T. campaign on stroke warning signs, in addition to their normal life-saving work, following a unique collaboration between the National Ambulance Service and the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke.
The initiative has been launched to help re-ignite the charity-funded Act F.A.S.T. campaign which has contributed to an increase of over 400% in the numbers of stroke patients receiving potentially life-saving clot-busting treatment known as thrombolysis since its launch just over two years ago (May 2010).
The F.A.S.T. signs are: Face – has the face fallen on one side? Can they smile? Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there? Speech – is their speech slurred? Time – time to call 999/112 if you see any one of these signs.
So far the emergency ambulances are operating in 11 locations countrywide and in addition to Longford, the locations include Cork, Donegal, Galway, Dublin, Kerry, Limerick, Meath, Roscommon, Waterford, Wexford.
The HSE National Stroke Programme estimates that the improved thrombolysis rate in Ireland is resulting in significantly improved outcomes for around 200 patients a year and has reduced the numbers requiring institutional care by 140 per annum. About 10,000 people suffer a stroke in Ireland annually and about 2,000 of these die from it. In Longford, 19 people lost their lives to stroke in 2010.
For more information on stroke symptoms, treatment or support see www.stroke.ie or talk to an Irish Heart Foundation nurse in confidence on the National Heart & Stroke Helpline on Locall 1890 432 787.