Approximately every 40 seconds, someone in the United States will have a stroke and every four minutes, someone will die as a result of the disease. Against that backdrop, UCLA Health launched the first mobile stroke unit on the West Coast, enabling rapid delivery of brain-saving medications to stroke patients who might otherwise face debilitating treatment delays. Rapid response is critical because the sooner a stroke is treated, the better the patient’s outcome. We know from research at UCLA that in a typical stroke, for every minute that goes by without treatment, two million brain cells die.
This specialized ambulance staffed by highly trained personnel responds to 911 stroke and stroke-related calls within a 10-mile radius currently alternating between 2 geographic sites, the Western site, with coverage of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Malibu and in the Southern site, with coverage in 9 cities including Cerritos, Signal Hill, La Mirada, Norwalk, Whittier, Lakewood, Hawaiian Gardens, Paramount and Bellflower. These dispatches are currently in collaboration with Santa Monica Fire Department, LA County Fire Department and Beverly Hills Fire Department. Ultimately, we hope that the unit will operate throughout the county and may be the first of a fleet of four to nine units serving the entire county.
It brings the hospital to the patient to begin lifesaving treatment in the field. The ambulance is equipped with a mobile CT scanner and blood-testing lab equipment, which enable on-board medical professionals, including a stroke neurologist, critical-care nurse, CT technologist and paramedic, to diagnose strokes and begin critical treatment to save as much brain as possible.