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Diane and Scott Onstine, Fargo, Published March 09 2013

Letter: We know FAST can save a life

My husband recently had a stroke. From the moment I called 911 until he came home, we encountered many of our community’s finest emergency personnel and medical professionals. The FM Ambulance dispatcher was a calming presence on the line until EMS and the firemen arrived. They were polite and professional and quickly determined my husband needed to be taken to Essentia Hospital, only six blocks from our home.

We learned after arriving that Essentia has the only accredited stroke and interventional neurosciences department in all of North Dakota. From the moment he arrived at the ER and was whisked away for a CT scan, given a clot-busting drug, then to interventional radiology for a brain angiogram, Dr. Darkhabani and the stroke team worked quickly and flawlessly.

We learned that time is the most critical factor in treating strokes, ruptured aneurysms and other debilitating neurovascular conditions. In the past, many people had to be flown out of the area which delayed treatment.

Everyone needs to know the symptoms of a stroke:

• F: facial numbness, weakness or drooping, especially on one side

• A: arm or leg weakness or numbness, especially on one side

• S: speech – trouble speaking or understanding language; can the person repeat a simple sentence?

• T: trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

FAST: Time is critical. Call 911 immediately. My husband walked out of Essentia Hospital after four days in ICU and ICCU and is making a remarkable and complete recovery with no lasting disabilities or deficits. Thank you to all of the wonderful professionals who helped make this possible.