Archived Story

Act F.A.S.T. for stroke awareness

Published 3:31pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Elizabeth Wesson knows about stroke awareness.

Long before that became the basis for her platform during her time as a Miss Alabama contestant for the last four years, it was already something that was important to the Hartselle native.

Her mom, Bobbie, had a stroke when Elizabeth was 11 years old.

“She (Elizabeth) definitely wants to promote awareness of stroke prevention because it has affected our family,” Bob said in a 2011 Enquirer story.

From the first time she entered a Miss America organization pageant at UAB in 2010, she teamed up with the Act F.A.S.T. stroke awareness and prevention as her platform.

“My goal is simple: That Alabama stroke patients get to the nearest and best-equipped hospital for treatment, and that we establish a statewide stroke registry to better document and understand the impact of this medical emergency in our state,” Elizabeth said in a letter to Al.com in October.

“We have already begun working toward these goals. A pilot program recently launched across 18 counties in southeast Alabama established a “system of care,” which is basically a coordinated response that happens when someone calls 911 to report a stroke or shows up at the hospital. In order to truly reach our goals, however, we need to expand that program statewide.”

Elizabeth would like to see more primary stroke centers across the state of Alabama. As of October, there were nine centers, but that’s not near enough.

I also like her idea of creating a statewide registry to help improve stroke care in the state.

“Simply put, if we can measure the impact of stroke, we can better treat and prevent it,” she said.

The Alabama Department of Public Heath, the Office of Emergency Medical Services and several state hospitals have formed the Southeast Regional Pilot Acute Stroke System and the first six months of it have been a success.

The 18 counties that have participated in the program serviced 1,260 patients as of June 2014, but we need to get it into all 67 counties including Morgan County.

I would like you to consider supporting this cause. Not only will this program save lives, but early detection and treatment could also help prevent long-lasting disabilities, such as paralysis, speech loss and other problems.

The first part is prevention. Know what causes strokes, the types of strokes and how we can change our habits to be healthier.

The second is getting treatment as fast as possible. Make sure you know what the early signs of stroke are and having a place nearby that can treat strokes immediately.

Stroke has affected our family as well. One of my relatives lived a full life until she had a stroke. She was never the same after that incident.

My prayer is that no one will ever have to go through what she went through ever again.

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