Paramedic, ER response demonstrates success of stroke system

May 16, 2011
Dana Slater With Paramedics

UCI Health and the Orange County Healthcare Agency will honor paramedics, emergency medical technicians and other first responders for excellent service.

Garden Grove Fire Department paramedics Josh Feldman, left, and Rick Ronstadt, right, helped save Dana Slater's life when he suffered stroke.

The Pre-Hospital Providers Appreciation Breakfast and Awards Ceremony Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Orange recognized those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in responding to medical emergencies in 2010. Pre-hospital personnel are first responders such as paramedics and EMTs, and staffs at ‘base station’ hospitals that direct and route ambulances to the correct emergency room.

The ceremony will also include a discussion of stroke care management led by Dr. Vivek Jain, the director of the UC Irvine Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center. UC Irvine was instrumental in creating the Orange County Stroke-Neurology Receiving System. Those suffering the symptoms of a stroke are now transported to one of a handful of Orange County hospitals that are best equipped to treat stroke, including UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange.

Dana Slater is an example of the system’s success. The Garden Grove man suffered a stroke in April and will be at the breakfast to thank the paramedics and UC Irvine stroke neurology team that treated him.

“These guys saved my life,” he said.

The 60-year old was watching TV with his wife one Sunday evening when he realized his left side was paralyzed and he could not speak clearly—signs of a major stroke. Within minutes of his wife’s call to 911, paramedics Rick Ronstadt and Josh Feldman from the Garden Grove Fire Department responded.

“I couldn’t feel my face,” Slater said. “I was a biscuit, just laying there.”

His mind was clear, though, and he was impressed by the team’s professionalism as they prepared him for transport. The paramedics took Slater to UC Irvine, where neurologist Dr. Steven Small took over and administered an intravenous drug called tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator, to dissolve the clot causing his stroke. Slater was able to play golf within a week, despite suffering a stroke that would have left him permanently disabled if not for the quick response of the county’s emergency medical system.

Slater continues to follow up with UC Irvine stroke neurologist Dr. Lama M. Al-Khoury.

About UC Irvine Medical Center: Orange County’s only university hospital, UC Irvine Medical Center offers acute- and general-care services at its new, 482,000-square-foot UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and is home to the county’s only Level I trauma center, American College of Surgeons-verified regional burn center and National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. U.S. News & World Report has included UC Irvine for 10 consecutive years on its list of America’s Best Hospitals, giving special recognition to its urology, gynecology, and ear, nose & throat programs.