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Superstition Fire and Medical using blood for stroke assessment

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jun 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-28 21:24:49-04

Life threw Steven Waite a bit of curveball back in April. He flew his private plane into the Valley to celebrate his 65th birthday with friends. But just as the party started, Steven wasn't feeling like himself.

Mitchell McCollough is a paramedic with Superstition Fire and Medical in the far East Valley.

He responded to Steven's call for help.

"We could immediately tell he was having a stroke," said Mitchell.

Mitchell and the first responders started doing their stroke assessment and then did something no other department in Arizona does, take a blood sample.

"Almost immediately because we can draw the blood and then when we can establish the IV." 

Doctor Gary Smith is the Chief Medical Officer with Steward Health. His team has been looking at stroke care and ways to improve it.

"The time factor was really quite important," said Doctor Smith. 

Since seconds can mean the difference between life and death, Doctor Smith found having paramedics take initial blood samples in the field instead of at the hospital could save time.

"It takes 30-seconds to save 30 minutes of time," said Doctor Smith.

Paramedics pass the blood sample off at the emergency room door and while the patient is getting a CT scan, lab work is being done simultaneously on the blood.

"If I can actually shave off 30-minutes, what a fabulous thing that is and the outcomes are that much more dramatic," said Doctor Smith. 

Right now, Superstition Fire and Medical is the only department doing blood draws on possible stroke patients. The Mesa Fire Department will start the new policy in August. Dr. Smith and Superstition Fire would like to see it happen across the country.