20:27 PM

Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit Wraps Summer Of Saving Lives

MSTU Day 1

This summer marked the launch of a new vehicle promising a new type of stroke care in central Ohio. The Mobile Stroke Treatment unit is officially backed into a bay.

“Kind of a traditional and ceremonial approach to signifying something new being placed in," said Nate Jennings/Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit Manager.

Nate Jennings of OhioHealth, manager of the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit, says this tradition dates back to the 1880’s.

“The firefighters and paramedics and emergency services would return the vehicle back to service, unhitch those horses, then push the vehicle back into their building," Jennings said.

This unit, a team effort by OhioHealth, Columbus Firefighters, Mount Carmel Medical Systems, and the Ohio State University Medical Center, is one of only 15 in the nation. Jennings says this puts Central Ohio at the cutting edge of stroke care.

“There’s less than 35 of them in the world. It’s relatively a new innovation in terms of medical provision," Jennings said.

Until now, dispatchers have sent medic units in response to calls about possible strokes. But that wasn’t enough.

“Approximately a dozen or so times a day, folks are suffering strokes here in Central Ohio," Jennings said.

OhioHealth Physician Assistant Corbin Willis says speedy treatment is critical to prevent disability.

“Something like one minute of oxygen and blood deprivation in the brain can add a week of rehab time. It can kill two million brain cells. It can do a lot of damage," Willis said.

Willis will ride in this unit along with special equipment to offer faster treatment to stroke patients. Through telemedicine, he will also be in touch with doctors specializing in strokes.

“They have the capabilities of identifying whether strokes are bleeding or non-bleeding strokes, which then allows us to manage that with the appropriate medications and therapies," Jennings said.

The teams say treating patients correctly on the way to the hospital rather than waiting to start treatment after they arrive, could save both lives, and quality of life.

"We might save people a year of rehab, and get them back to where they never would have been, if this didn’t exist," Willis said.