SANTA MONICACalifornia’s first-ever Mobile Stroke Unit was deployed on Thursday, September 14 paving the way for a new approach to deal with medical emergencies.

The $1.46 million pilot program was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on June 20, 2017. The Santa Monica Fire Department is now partnering with UCLA to release the emergency vehicle to the public. The Mobile Stroke Unit acts like an ambulance, but it is equipped equipped with a mobile CT scanner to diagnose and start treating stroke patients while they are still en-route to the hospital.

Support from Arline and Henry Gluck assist with helping the MSU become the first in the nation to be supported by a public-private partnership. The funding is the result of the County of Los Angeles Measure B, a parcel tax funding source dedicated to supporting emergency and trauma services.

Staffers will include a physician, two nurses, a CT scan technician and a SMFD Firefighter Paramedic. There have only been 14 other MSU deployed in the United States so far and the program is continuing to expand. The Santa Monica Mobile Stroke Unit will continue to run for the next 2 years.

While most medical conditions can be treated aboard an ambulance, a stroke requires immediate assistance and specific medication as soon as possible. Restoring blood flow to the patient before reaching the hospital is essential and can prevent long-term brain damage.

According to statistics, each year, 795,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke, and over 137,000 people do not survive. Symptoms of a stroke can be memorized by the acronym FAST: Facial droopiness, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.