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Hamilton Paramedics showing the FAST decal on an ambulance
October 29, 2018

New ambulance decals will help create more stroke survivors

When someone has a stroke, every second counts. The ability to recognize the “FAST” signs of stroke and call 9-1-1 can mean the difference between life and death, or the difference between a full recovery and lasting disability.

To create more stroke survivors in our community, Hamilton Paramedic Service and Hamilton Health Sciences have partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help residents recognize the signs of stroke. To do this, Hamilton ambulances will display “FAST” decals to remind residents of the signs of stroke, and urge them to call 9-1-1 right away if stroke is suspected.

“FAST” stands for:

Face – is it drooping?

Arms – can you raise both?

Speech – is it slurred or jumbled?

Time – to call 9-1-1 right away!

“We want Hamiltonians to understand that when it comes to stroke, timing is critical. By recognizing stroke symptoms early, Hamilton’s trained paramedics and our local stroke team can provide you with the treatment and care you need sooner, which greatly improves your chances at a full recovery,” says Hamilton Paramedic Deputy Chief Russell Crocker.

“We want Hamiltonians to understand that when it comes to stroke, timing is critical.”

Hamilton General Hospital is the regional stroke centre for Central South Ontario. There, a specialized stroke team sees some of the most severe cases of stroke in our region. They know firsthand the potentially devastating impacts that delaying stroke can have on individuals and their loved ones.

“Knowing the signs of stroke could save your life, or the life of someone you love,” says Dr. Wes Oczkowski, stroke neurologist at HGH and medical director for the Central South Regional Stroke Network. “We hope this initiative will help create more stroke survivors in our community.”

In Hamilton, more than 1,000 people suffer from stroke each year. In 2017 and 2018, Hamilton Paramedic Service has transported approximately 1,397 suspected stroke cases. Of those cases, half were men and half were female, with the majority aged over 40 years.

“Knowing the signs of stroke could save your life, or the life of someone you love.”

Heart & Stroke Director of Ontario Mission, Karen Trainoff, is delighted to expand the reach of the FAST campaign through this partnership with Hamilton Paramedic Service and Hamilton Health Sciences.

“We know that public awareness increases in communities that have FAST decals on their vehicles. We are pleased to know that people will be reminded of the FAST signs of stroke every time they see a Region X ambulance,” says Ms.Trainoff. “Our objective is to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live or how old they are, know and remember the FAST signs of stroke.”

Stroke facts

  • A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function.
  • 62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.
  • 83 per cent of those who have a stroke and make it to hospital will now survive.
  • Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute during stroke.
  • Each year, more than 13,000 Canadians die from stroke.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of acquired adult disability
  • Stroke can happen at any age. Stroke among people under 65 is increasing and stroke risk factors are increasing for young adults.
  • Half of Canadians report having a close friend or family member who survived a stroke.

For more information about the signs of stroke, visit