The Difference Between Life and Death – Stroke Week Message Urges People to Act F.A.S.T


Beneath the funny costumes is a serious message.

Nurses at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service donned superhero garb this week as part of their effort to raise awareness in our community about how to recognise if someone is having a stroke, and what action to take.

The first week in September is National Stroke Week, and health professionals all over the country were using the opportunity to tell people they can be a real life superhero by always remembering the F.A.S.T. test.

“The F.A.S.T. test is an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke,” says BRHS’ Suzanne McArthur. “Recognising a stroke early and taking immediate action by calling 000 can literally be the difference between life and death.”

F.A.S.T stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time, and using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms – Can they lift both arms?

Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time – Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

Stroke can impact anyone of any age, with more than 80 per cent of strokes showing at least one of the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke.

A stroke is a medical emergency. The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke-related brain damage.

Emergency medical treatment soon after symptoms begin improves the chance of survival and successful rehabilitation.

BRHS is well-equipped to treat someone suffering a stroke, with local clinical staff backed up by the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine program which links rural and regional Victorian hospitals to a network of Melbourne-based neurologists who can provide treatment advice about patients with acute stroke symptoms.

Other signs of stroke

  • Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall
  • Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches
  • Difficulty swallowing

If you or someone else experiences the signs of stroke, no matter how long they last, call 000 immediately.