Via Santa Monica Fire Department press release.

Via SMFD

As part of a Los Angeles County mobile stroke study, the Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) has teamed up with UCLA to respond 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. 

In 2011, the world’s first active mobile stroke unit was deployed in Germany.  Since then, mobile stroke units have expanded across the globe. While there are 14 mobile stroke units operating with positive results in states across the United States, no mobile stroke unit is yet operating in the State of California. UCLA and the City of Santa Monica Fire Department have collaborated to implement the first mobile stroke unit 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. On June 20, 2017, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to fund a mobile stroke unit pilot program in Los Angeles County. The Supervisors’ motion directs $1.46 million to expand the mobile stroke unit pilot program run by UCLA Health. The funding comes from the County of Los Angeles Measure B, a parcel tax funding source dedicated to supporting emergency and trauma services.

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The Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) is staffed by a medical team from UCLA consisting of a physician, two nurses, a CT scan technician, and a SMFD Firefighter Paramedic. There will be no delay or change in emergency response protocols as a result of the pilot. All calls for service will follow the Fire Department’s normal call protocol. Calls that involve a potential stroke will be augmented with a response by the MSU.

Experts say it is vitally important to begin medication within the crucial first hour after an individual has a stroke.

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.

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, FASTFacial droop, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.