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Innovative Stroke Treatment Pilot Program Hits the Streets of Santa Monica

October 31, 2017 1:30 PM
by Patrick Nulty

Innovative Stroke Treatment Pilot Program Hits the Streets of Santa Monica

The Santa Monica Fire Department and UCLA Health are excited to announce their partnership in a new pilot program, the Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU). Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States will have a stroke. Research shows that for every minute that goes by without treatment, 2 million brain cells could be lost. Therefore, early recognition of symptoms and early treatment of a stroke could significantly impact the survival, recovery, and quality of life of a stroke victim.

This innovative pilot program is the first of its kind on the west coast, which brings the hospital to the patient. The unit is a state-of-the-art ambulance, equipped with a CT Scanner and special medications for the treatment of certain types of strokes. It is staffed with a CT Technician, a Registered Nurse and a Santa Monica Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic.

During the implementation phase of the pilot, Dr. May Nour, Medical Director of the UCLA Arline and Henry Gluck Stroke Rescue Program, will ride with the crew. Eventually, the Neurologist will transition away from the unit and oversee the team through a live video stream. The MSU is in service Monday through Thursday, and responds to 9-1-1 calls with Santa Monica Fire Department units in hopes that it can provide lifesaving interventions to stroke victims right at the location of the emergency, saving valuable time and precious brain cells.

Santa Monica Firefighter/Paramedic Jeff Cusick (center) and Dr. May Nour, UCLA (right).

Funding for the pilot is through a philanthropic donation to UCLA by the Gluck Foundation, and an additional $1.5 million contribution by the Los Angeles County Measure B funding. The program started in mid-September and will continue for 30 months.

Fire Chief Bill Walker sees this pilot as an opportunity to enhance the lifesaving services offered to our community, and the partnership between UCLA and the SMFD is a perfect fit.

“Santa Monica is proud to be a partner in bringing this life-saving resource directly to our residents and neighbors when minutes count,” Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer said. “The Santa Monica Fire Department has embraced this partnership from the beginning and we’re thrilled to see the mobile stroke unit launch.”

SMFD Paramedics want to educate everyone on the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Use the letters in “FAST” to spot stroke signs and know when to call 9-1-1.

F – Face Drooping

A – Arm Weakness

S – Speech Difficulty

T – Time to call 911

For more information on Strokes, visit

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