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Stroke Ambulance To Be Trialled In Melbourne This Month

A new ambulance is set to be trialed on the streets of Melbourne this month with the soul purpose of treating stroke victims.

The first ever stroke ambulance in Australia will be equipped with a CT scanner and will have a stroke nurse, radiographer and two paramedics on board, with the hopes of giving stroke victims a greater chance of full recovery.

The Victorian State Government has said that the mobile stroke unit will operate within a 20km radius of the Royal Melbourne Hospital and would be able to treat up to 3,000 patients each year.

The $1.5 million dollar ambulance will allow paramedics to scan a patient's brain on board, send it to a neurologist at the hospital and receive a diagnosis almost instantaneously.

Professor Stephen Davis, the director of neurology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital has said that a stroke ambulance could save between 30-45 minutes of time in a patient's treatment.

"We can treat the patient faster. Every minute two million brain cells are lost, so it's a race against time," he said.

"The golden hour, the first 60 minutes is the key statistic. We can only treat 2 or 3 per cent within the golden hour now, with this [the ambulance] we can treat up to 40 per cent."

Strokes are quite common and one in six people in Victoria will suffer one in their lifetime. The condition is a leading cause of disabilities in Australia and causes more deaths than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

However, the stroke ambulance is set to squash these statistics.

"If we can get the patient early and we can dissolve the blood clot that's causing the stroke, it can make the difference between someone ending up with severe paralysis or speech impairment requiring assistance for day-to-day living, versus someone that can go home," said Professor Davis.

The government is set to invest $7.5 million into the stroke ambulance trial as part of a bigger plan to improve ambulance response times.

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