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Health and Medicine

Specially equipped Cleveland Clinic ambulance serves stroke victims
New mobile stroke unit will bring crucial treatment to patients at the scene saving valuable time

Kevin Niedermier
In The Region:

The Cleveland Clinic has unveiled its “mobile stroke unit,” an ambulance specially equipped to treat stroke victims on the scene.

The vehicle will provide quicker treatment for the estimated 5,600 Cuyahoga County residents hospitalized for strokes each year.

Dr. Peter Rasmussen is head of the Clinic’s Cerebro-vascular Center. He says the stroke unit makes it possible to swiftly administer blood-clot dissolving drugs to the patient. A stroke victim has a better chance of recovery if they get this treatment as soon as possible.

Rasmussen says the vehicle is different from a regular ambulance in several ways, including its’ on-board cathscanner.

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“A cathscanner is absolutely crucial for identifying the kind of stroke a patient is having. The second difference is that it has onboard all of the laboratory testing equipment needed to understand a patient’s blood chemistry to give the proper treatment. The third difference is that it has onboard a telemedicine unit so we can virtually bring a stroke expert directly onboard and to the scene the patient is having the stroke.”

If a 911 caller describes stroke-like symptoms, the dispatcher will send the stroke unit along with a regular Cleveland E-M-S ambulance. The vehicle goes into service on Friday. The only other stroke unit in the U-S is operating in Houston, Texas. But many are being used in Germany.

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