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Press Release

New Lifesaving System Supports Rapid Care for Stroke Victims in Contra Costa County

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A new county stroke program being implemented in Contra Costa will help hospitals and first responders work rapidly as a team to save lives and reduce brain damage for hundreds of people a year.

The Emergency Medical Services Division of Contra Costa Health Services will present the new Stroke System Program to the County Board of Supervisors at its meeting Oct. 25 at 651 Pine Street in Martinez. The system is expected to go live January 2, 2012 at hospitals around the county.

There are an estimated 1,000 suspected cases of stroke every year in Contra Costa. From 2005-2007, it was the county's third leading killer at 1,462 deaths, according to Contra Costa Stroke Program Coordinator Craig Stroup.

"You risk brain damage from stroke, so it's important to call 911 immediately if you or someone else is suffering from stroke," he said. "Symptoms include sudden weakness on one side, trouble walking, trouble seeing, trouble speaking or a sudden severe headache with no known cause"

The Program is designed to rapidly treat stroke victims to prevent brain damage and death. The system enables first responders to identify stroke victims in the field, notify a designated stroke-receiving hospital and transport the victim to treatment within the critical four-hour window from onset of symptoms to successfully treat stroke.

To qualify as a stroke receiving center, hospitals must undergo site visits and become certified as a Primary Stroke Center through a hospital accreditation body. Six Contra Costa hospitals have earned the certification and the remaining hospitals have either begun the process or stated interest. Participating hospitals are John Muir Medical Center's Walnut Creek and Concord campuses, Kaiser Medical Center's Walnut Creek, Antioch and Richmond campuses, and Doctors Medical Center, San Pablo.

"This is about creating a system of care to improve survival," Stroup said. "With so many participating hospitals, Contra Costa is ahead of the curve in stroke care."

In addition to a rapid notification and treatment system, Stroup said the system promotes the community outreach and prevention program "Act in Time" from the National Institute of Health and makes use of the California Stroke Registry to track success.

Emergency Medical Services Director Patricia Frost said the stroke system sets a new standard of stroke care in Contra Costa. "'Act in Time' means everyone in Contra Costa can identify the signs of stroke and knows to call 911," Frost said.

To find out more about stroke and Emergency Medical Services, visit

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Press Contact
  • Craig Stroup
  • 925-313-9557