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March 9, 2020

It's Time to Change the Protocol | Aero Med Express

emergency room air ambulance stroke victims

As time progresses and we learn more about the impact of strokes on the human body, it only makes sense to review and modify EMS stroke protocols as appropriate. Medical and health experts across the globe are coming to a consensus that additional rules should be implemented to guarantee patients are transported to Level 1 stroke facilities as quickly as possible. 

Embracing Change to Enhance Stroke Victim Health

It might not be long until state laws mandate emergency medical technicians (EMTs) transport patients who appear to have endured a severe stroke to medical facilities with a Level 1 stroke center. It should not matter if such a facility is not the closest one available. In other words, the protocols pertaining to severe stroke victims are changing with the overarching goal of improving the human condition.

Stroke Severity Matters

Though few people outside of the medical industry are aware of it, strokes cost our nation more than $30 billion per year. Nearly 90% of all strokes are categorized as ischemic strokes. The most dangerous strokes are known as ischemic strokes with ELVO.  ELVO is an acronym that stands for emergent large vessel occlusion. All in all, between 150,000 and 200,000 of these harsh strokes occur in any given year.

At the level of emergency medical services (EMS), EMTs commonly rely on the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale to gauge if the patient has endured a stroke. However, this scale is somewhat flawed as it does not distinguish between a severe stroke and one that is relatively minor. In other words, there is a need for an improved assessment. Though severity scales to measure strokes have existed for quite a while, there are multiple scales, making matters that much more confusing for those working in the medical industry. Industry insiders insist EMTs should rely on the app dubbed “Stroke Scales for EMS” that includes multiple stroke scales. This app merely requires a minute or less to provide essential information pertaining to the victim’s stroke severity.

Stroke Treatment

Stroke sufferers with the aforementioned ELVO typically benefit from a thrombectomy. This procedure is commonly performed at Level 1 stroke centers. Such centers qualify for the Level 1 designation if they provide a dedicated stroke unit, a comprehensive neuroendovascular therapy spectrum and meet additional criteria. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has also proposed an alternative tier system of its own. 

Thrombectomies typically take upwards of 15 minutes yet a timely response performed by qualified individuals will take as little as five minutes. Clinical trials show thrombectomies are quite effective for significant strokes. Unfortunately, only about one in ten ELVO patients are provided with this essential treatment. The problem is the majority of states lack the protocol necessary for EMS workers to transport ELVO patients to centers where thrombectomies can be performed. This is precisely why EMS protocols must be updated to ensure patients are transported to Level 1 stroke centers with the facilities necessary to perform a thrombectomy no matter what time it is.

Aero Med Express Air Ambulance Services are Here to Help

Our air ambulance service is here to lend a helping hand during your time of need. Whether you or a loved one suffer a stroke or another health problem, you can trust our team to expedite your medical care. We are proud to provide a comprehensive bedside-to-bedside air ambulance service for individuals, hospitals and companies. Our services extend throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. If you or a loved one need air ambulance services, give us a call at 800-824-8555.  

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