EMS providers should be familiar with the BE FAST mnemonic as it relates to stroke recognition and assessment. BE FAST helps us identify common stroke symptoms and prompt appropriate action.
Here's what EMS providers need to know:
B - Balance: Check if the person has a sudden loss of balance or coordination. Watch for stumbling, difficulty walking, or a sudden onset of dizziness.
E - Eyes: Look for sudden vision changes, such as blurred or double vision, or vision loss in one or both eyes. Ask the person if they are experiencing any visual disturbances.
F - Face: Ask the person to smile and check for facial drooping or asymmetry. A lopsided smile or drooping on one side of the face is a potential sign of a stroke.
A - Arms: Have the person raise both arms and observe if one arm drifts downward or cannot be held up. Weakness or numbness in one arm or hand is indicative of a stroke.
S - Speech: Listen for slurred or garbled speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and watch for difficulty speaking or understanding. Incoherent or abnormal speech may suggest a stroke.
T - Time: Time is critical in stroke cases. If any of the above symptoms are present, please note when they started. The sooner the person receives medical attention, the better their chances of receiving appropriate treatment.
By using the BE FAST mnemonic, EMS providers can quickly assess stroke symptoms and initiate appropriate care. It's important to remember that this is a screening tool and not a definitive diagnosis. Timely transportation to a stroke center is crucial for further evaluation and treatment.