Australia’s first ever dedicated stroke ambulance will hit the road in Melbourne next year to provide the quickest possible diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering a life threatening stroke.
The ground-breaking ambulance is part of the Andrews Labor Government’s $500 million plan to employ 450 more paramedics, build new and upgraded stations, and improve ambulance response times.
The mobile stroke unit is a result of a $7.5 million investment over four years, and follows successful trials in Germany and America.
The purpose-built vehicle will feature a CT scanner to be operated by Royal Melbourne Hospital staff including a stroke nurse, radiographer and stroke neurologist, and Ambulance Victoria paramedics.
With a CT scanner on board, assessment and treatment of stroke can begin on the patient immediately, rather than after they have arrived at hospital.
This means stroke victims can receive faster interventions such as clot busting thrombolysis, giving them the best possible chance of survival and recovery.
The stroke ambulance will provide efficient and effective road transfer to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for ongoing treatment, where patients will benefit from a seamless transition and connected care.
CT scanner results from the ambulance will be instantly sent to hospital thanks to the latest telehealth technology.
The trial is part of research between the Florey, Royal Melbourne Hospital, the University of Melbourne and Ambulance Victoria.
The ambulance set up is being made possible by a generous donation from leading Melbourne business figures and the Stroke Foundation.
The trial is due to commence in mid-2017 in Melbourne’s north and western suburbs.
About one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. In 2014, 2,954 Victorians died from the disease. It is the leading cause of disability in Australia, and causes more deaths than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
Victorian hospitals treat more than 14,000 people for stroke and related conditions every year.
The MSU was launched by Professors Geoff Donnan and Stephen Davies, who jointly led the project, and Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Premier Daniel Andrews.