Think FAST to prevent the worst after stroke strikes

two city paramedics are starring in a new film launched to show people how to respond when they think someone is having a stroke.

Saturday, 29th October 2016, 3:32 pm
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 8:52 am
The film highlights how to do the FAST test properly to determine whether a patient has had a stroke. Picture: contributed

Kris McLean and Craig Young, who are based at the Edinburgh City Ambulance Station, are featured carrying out the FAST test.

That relates to the Face, Arms, Speech and Time, and takes less than a minute to do. If any part of the FAST test is positive, then the patient is taken by ambulance to hospital, where stroke specialists will be waiting.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has released the new film to coincide with World Stroke Day to highlight the need for fast action when it comes to a stroke, which affects 15,000 patients in Scotland each year.

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Craig said: “I’ve attended numerous stroke patients over the years and know how devastating it is for everybody involved – patients, their families and friends.

“Myself and Kris were more than happy to take part and to show not just how we do the FAST test but also the speed at which we work when we suspect a stroke.

“In the film we are literally in the patient’s house for a couple of minutes as time is everything when it comes to stroke.

“The sooner we can get the patient to hospital, the better their chances are of a successful outcome.”

Originally conceived as a training film, it was first shown at the Scottish Stroke Care Audit general meeting in August, where its realistic depiction of a stroke patient being treated won praise.

Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland realised its potential and proposed that the film be made public.

Mark O’Donnell, chief executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: “This new film highlights the urgency involved in recognising the signs and symptoms of a stroke and taking action to get help.

“The longer the gap between the onset of a stroke and treatment, the more likely you are to die or suffer major permanent disability.

“Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland was very keen to support making this film originally aimed at paramedics, available to a wider audience.”

Craig Henderson, stroke manager at the Scottish 
Ambulance Service, said: “Stroke is a medical emergency. It is the third-biggest cause of death and the most common cause of life-altering disability in Scotland.

“We need as many people as possible to know what a stroke looks like and just as importantly, what to do when they think somebody has had one, so we can save more lives and improve outcomes.”

He added: “Our frontline staff have all viewed the film and it’s fantastic that Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland realised the potential of the film and that we are now releasing it to a wider audience.”

The film can be viewed at