Advanced Stroke Life Support Course

Thursday, 26 February, 2009

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb), in partnership with the region's stroke networks and South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, has become the first organisation outside the USA to pilot an innovative advanced stroke care course for emergency medical professionals involved in stroke care.

The day long Advanced Stroke Life Support (ASLS) course, developed by the University of Miami's Gordon Centre for Research in Medical Education, was piloted at three locations across SECAmb's Sussex, Surrey and Kent region last month and through one course in the South West.

The post-graduate course teaches clinicians how to recognize and manage acute signs of stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack) and ensure that the highest possible number of patients access potentially life-saving, clot-busting treatments.

The US course is being piloted to find out if it is appropriate for multi-disciplinary groups in the region. Part of the process includes a questionnaire-based assessment to identify confidence
and clinical knowledge improvements - with the results being interpreted by Dr David Crook PhD.

Course tutor and Associate Director of Research and Curriculum Development at the Gordon Centre, Geoffrey Miller, said: "This is the first international collaboration we've done with the ASLS course. It was organized through the relationships we've built with SECAmb through study tours its staff have attended in the US.

"The pilot programme has been taught very much along the same lines as it's taught in the US, where it is currently running in 22 states and over 400 organisations. When first set up in 1997, it was originally paramedic-focussed but it's now been developed as a course aimed at multi-disciplines.

We're able to provide the various disciplines with a chance to come together as separate players in the local stroke network, to discover more about people's roles and to see how, by working together, they can provide optimal care for stroke and TIA patients."

SECAmb Paramedic and Stroke Lead & Clinical Pathways Co-ordinator, David Davis has been developing clinical pathways for stroke patients across the SECAmb region during the last 18 months. SECAmb, in partnership with Adrian South of South West Ambulance, was recognised nationally in the NHS 60th anniversary brochure and NHS Live Awards in 2008 for developing a pathway of national best practise that gets more stroke patients to specialist stroke services.

David said: "The ASLS course is a very exciting one that brings together ambulance clinicians with doctors and nurses and other clinicians who work in A&E and acute stroke units. Delivering the very best possible outcome for patients suffering acute stroke requires teamwork. Common communication language and the ability to effectively transfer care between pre-hospital and inhospital clinicians is one of the key focuses of the course and it is very timely to be piloting a course of this nature alongside the forthcoming stroke awareness campaign developed by the Department of Health."

The results of this pilot will be carefully scrutinised by stroke networks in the region and will inform the future development of multi-disciplinary education in Acute Stroke.

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