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Quick thinking saved Steve’s life
For Group Officer Steve Lewis (Dundas Group), who suffered a stroke back in March, his awareness of stroke signs combined with an effective response at Western District Health Service has meant the difference between a full recovery and permanent disability or death.
Steve is a member of Mooralla Fire Brigade and is in his third year as Group Officer of Dundas Group which has 18 member brigades.
On the morning of his stroke Steve was catching up on CFA paperwork.
“I’d been to a couple of long CFA meetings the day and night before and everything was normal until I went to turn a light off and my arm just wouldn’t move,” said Steve.
“I had pins and needles and felt a bit dizzy. I tried to talk and could hear that my speech was lazy, so I rang my wife Jill at work and brother Andrew and decided immediately to call an ambulance.”
While Steve was in the ambulance, the Hamilton Hospital Stroke Team was alerted and mobilised so staff were on standby when he arrived. Through a videoconferencing unit, he and wife Jill were soon discussing administering a clot-busting drug with a Royal Melbourne stroke specialist.
“The drug worked and in about an hour and a half I could move my arm a little. Within 48 hours I could move normally, and within few weeks I was back on light duties; it was a perfect result,” said Steve.
“I just wanted to tell everyone what happened because it is such an important story.
“With the clot busting drug every minute counts as there is only a 4.5 hour window for the drug to be administered from when you first notice the symptoms.
“It’s really important to recognise and act on the symptoms. I’m lucky because in CFA, along with all other emergency first responders, observational skills are trained into you. We are taught to look for signs of stroke, heart attack and other medical emergencies.
“When it’s happening to you it’s a bit different, but it’s imperative you make the decision to call Triple Zero very quickly”.
“I can’t thank the team at WDHS and the Royal Melbourne enough.
“We are privileged to have such highly trained and professional emergency staff in our communities.”