First Aid For Strokes

strokeDo you know how to identify if someone is suffering a stroke? Do you know what First Aid to provide? To celebrate National Stroke Week (8-14 September) here’s our stroke First Aid run-down.

Why The Big Fuss With Strokes?

Stroke (previously known as cerebro vascular accident) is Australia’s second biggest killer after coronary heart disease and a leading cause of disability (Stroke Foundation). The statistics show that a massive 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime. In 2014 about 51,000 Australians will suffer a new or recurrent stroke – that is 1000 strokes every week or one stroke every 10 minutes (Stroke Foundation 2014).

What Is A Stroke?

what is a stroke

A stroke happens when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly interrupted. There are two types of stroke: ischaemic and haemorrhagic. An ischaemic stroke occurs when a thrombus (clot) blocks an artery and stops the flow of blood to the brain. 80% of strokes are ischaemic. The remaining 20% of strokes are haemorrhagic and occur when the blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain (Ambulance Service of NSW)

Who Has A Stroke?

Stroke doesn’t discriminate. Whilst statistics show that 70% of stroke casualties are typically aged 65 years or older, a stroke can occur at any age (ABS 2012). When Paramedic Belinda Lister suffered a stroke at 39 following a morning run she was in perfect health. Her partner, also an ambulance officer, was able to recognise the stroke and get her to hospital immediately. She told her in incredible story told to 7 News Sydney:

What Are The Signs & Symptoms of a Stroke?

Recognising the signs of stroke and providing First Aid immediately can mean the difference between death and severe disability and making a good recovery.
The signs and symptoms of a stroke may include: (Stroke Foundation)

  • 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

The F.A.S.T Test

stroke fast test

A simple mnemonic to assist in recognising a stroke involves utilising the FAST acronym and tests.

Face – can the person smile, does their mouth droop?
Arms – can the person raise both arms?
Speech – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
Time – act fast and call Triple Zero (000) immediately and ask for Ambulance.

What Is The First Aid For A Stroke?

The First Aid for stroke casualties is very important as there is clear evidence that early treatment greatly reduces the death rate and longer-term effects for survivors.


The Australian Resuscitation Council recommends the following First Aid for stroke casualties. It includes:

  • Staying with the victim
  • Calling an ambulance for any victim who has shown signs of stroke, no matter how brief or if symptoms have resolved
  • If victim is conscious provide reassurance and do not give anything to eat or drink
  • Administer oxygen if available and trained to do so
  • Follow the ARC guidelines on managing an unconscious casualty,checking for response, ensuring a clear airway
  • If casualty is unconscious and not breathing normally, follow ARC guidelines and provide basic life support.
A casualty suffering from stroke should be transported by ambulance because paramedics can start the management of stroke and make sure the victim is taken to the most appropriate hospital for specialist stroke management (ARC). Paramedics can also notify the receiving hospital, reducing time to the start of treatment.

Where Can I Get More Information About Strokes?

Why not get some real, life-saving skills and knowledge by completing a First Aid course. Check out our upcoming First Aid course dates in in Port Macquarie, Taree or Nelson Bay and secure your spot in a course today.

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