Simulation in Casselton demonstrates stroke symptoms and response

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Casselton, ND (Valley News Live) Imagine suddenly feeling your left side go weak and not being able to speak, or possibly swallow. For those that suffer from a stroke it’s all too real. Each year nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke, and health officials want you to be able to identify the signs when someone is in distress.

“Every minute you go without oxygen to your brain, two million brain cells die,” explains Megan Carlblum. Carlblum is Essentia Health’s Stroke Program Manager, and says strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. But the brain damage from strokes can be minimized if a patient is give treatment fast enough. “The faster you get into the hospital, the faster we can take care of you, the faster that we can give you treatment,” Carlblum says.

The treatment varies, depending on the type of stroke. Strokes can be caused by blockages in the brain, much like those that cause heart attacks, or can be caused by bleeding of the brain. A CT scan can determine the stroke type, which determines the treatment.

Chris Schroder, a registered nurse, played the part of the stroke victim in Casselton’s simulation event. Having treated stroke patients herself, she says the patients are “so afraid of what’s happening. Not being able to talk, not being able to move your limbs, that is to them unnerving.”

While Schroder only played the part of a stroke victim, she gained understanding in just how frustrating not being able to communicate is. She said it was hard not being able to simply tell the EMT’s what she was feeling, and it was even harder to keep her left arm still, instead of using it to gesture.

Despite the fact that Schroder’s actions were only a part of the planned scene, she says the responding EMT’s, who were also in on the plan, took their job very seriously. “The EMT comes up, she pretty much said we’re gunna take care of you, we’re going to bring you to the hospital, you’re gunna be okay,” Schroder says. The EMT’s explained every bit of treatment that was given during the simulation, which she says was calming.

Casselton’s event was just a simulation, but the effects of a stroke are very real. Carlblum says to remember the acronym F.A.S.T. – facial drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech, and time. If an individual displays the first three, it’s time to call the paramedics. You can also use the first three letters of the word stroke when evaluating an individual for the signs of a stroke. Ask them to S - smile, T- talk and repeat a sentence, and R – raise their hands above their head. If they can’t, just like F.A.S.T. it’s time to call the paramedics. Carlblum says never to wait for the symptoms of a stroke to go away, call 9-1-1 immediately.