Anatomy of a Mobile Stroke Unit Response
St. Charles paramedics recently utilized the Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Mobile Stroke Unit. Here's how it helped assist with a reported stroke:
- The 911 call came into Tri-Com, the shared dispatch service of St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia emergency response. Based on the dispatcher’s assessment, St. Charles emergency medical services were dispatched, along with the Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Mobile Stroke Unit.
- The MSU was available to respond to the call and set out for St. Charles. The patient’s location is always the first choice for the MSU to respond, but if it is not conducive, the unit will meet local EMS at predetermined locations. In this instance, our EMS transported the patient to meet at Charlestowne Mall.
- The entire time, our EMS team was in contact with the dedicated MSU Stroke Care Team: a critical care nurse, a CT technician, an EMT technician driver, and a critical care paramedic on board, with teleconnection to a neurologist and radiologist.
- The MSU Stroke Care Team began working with the patient immediately upon arrival. The MSU team performed a CT scan, had the scan read and the patient’s stroke diagnosed, and administered treatment.
- The benefit? Utilizing the Mobile Stroke Unit streamlines the response process from the 911 call to actual treatment of the patient. It is estimated to save an average of 30 minutes per incident. Administering treatment to stroke patients with an hour of a stroke has been shown to greatly enhance patient outcomes.
What is a Stroke?
The medical ailment commonly referred to as a stroke is more specifically a disease that affects the arteries leading to and contained within the brain. According to the American Stroke Association, it is the number 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. In 2017, 37 responses were made to 911 calls from St. Charles residents for stroke related emergencies. Current research indicates that early intervention has the potential to positively impact patient outcomes.
About the Mobile Stroke Unit
In our area, best practices have previously indicated direct transport to Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) as it is one of the few hospitals in Illinois to be awarded the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. Now, CDH in partnership with local Emergency Medical Service agencies such as the St. Charles Fire Department and Tri-City Ambulance, have implemented a dual response protocol that includes a state-of-the-art Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) to bring stroke care directly to the field for stroke patients. This MSU is the first of its kind in Illinois, and one of the few in the nation. It will begin servicing St. Charles and eastern Kane County in conjunction with local EMS within the month of April.
The Mobile Stroke Unit is equipped with a CT Scanner that will enable advanced diagnostics, and a direct telemedicine connection to Northwestern neurologists. The telemedicine equipment allows the MSU team to directly communicate with the neurologist, who can direct care while the team is transporting the patient to the hospital. If the neurologist determines that the patient is experiencing a blocked blood vessel in the brain, the physician may direct that a clot-breaking medication is administered. In the case of a blood vessel rupture in the brain, a clotting agent may be recommended. This early intervention can lead to better outcomes.
When it’s not being dispatched to a call, the Mobile Stroke Unit will reside at the Central DuPage Hospital. The MSU will operate 365 days a year, 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm.
How the Mobile Stroke Unit Works:
- A patient or bystander calls 9-1-1 and reports stroke-like symptoms
- A St. Charles ambulance and the Mobile Stroke Unit will be alerted for a possible stroke patient
- A St. Charles ambulance and the Mobile Stroke Unit will both go to the scene
- Our paramedics will complete a Stroke Assessment, and if a stroke seems likely, turn care of the patient over to the Mobile Stroke Team
- The Mobile Stroke Team will complete a CT scan on the patient from inside the MSU
- The Mobile Stroke Team will contact the on-call neurologist using real-time audio and video to read the CT scan and begin patient care in the Mobile Stroke Unit
For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Fire Chief Joseph Schelstreet at 630.377.4458.