UCLA launches specialized stroke ambulance

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 - UCLA mobile stroke unit
Photo courtesy of UCLA Health.

UCLA Health has launched a first for the West Coast: a mobile stroke unit, complete with a mobile CT scanner and technologist, that's able to deliver vital medicine and treatment to stroke victims.  

“Rapid response is critical, because the sooner a stroke is treated, the better the patient’s outcome,” said May Nour, MD, PhD, medical director of the UCLA Arline and Henry Gluck Stroke Rescue Program in a  press release. “We know from research at UCLA that in a typical stroke, every minute that goes by without treatment, two million brain cells die.” 

The mobile stroke unit is equipped with a mobile CT scanner, appropriate medications, mobile blood-testing laboratory, neurologist, critical care nurse, CT technologist and paramedic.

The mobile stroke unit and accompanying highly trained personnel set out in September to serve a select handful of 911 calls in Santa Monica, California. The mobile unit is part of a larger national project to gather data to evaluate the effectiveness of rapidly delivered care in terms of cost effectiveness and patient outcomes.  

“Minutes matter when it comes to treating strokes,” said incumbent member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the Fourth District Janice Hahn. “With a mobile stroke unit operating in L.A. County, doctors will be able to diagnose and treat stroke patients faster than ever before—making it more likely that they not only survive, but go on to live longer, healthier lives.” 

The design, build and clinical rollout of the unit were supported by a philanthropic donation to UCLA by the Arline and Henry Gluck Foundation and is soon expected to expand to other parts of Los Angeles and possibly the U.S., according to the release.