Northwestern Medicine expands Mobile Stroke Unit coverage to Warrenville

Northwestern Medicine and the Warrenville Fire Protection District are collaborating to offer life-saving stroke diagnosis and treatment to residents of the western suburb. Northwestern Medicine's Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) can now be directly dispatched for suspected cases of stroke in Warrenville.

The first of its kind in Illinois, Northwestern Medicine's MSU has a 16-slice CT scanner, telemedicine connections and stroke-specific medications.

The team is comprised of a critical care nurse, a CT technician, an EMT technician driver, and a critical care paramedic. On average, Northwestern Medicine's MSU provides life-saving treatment 30 minutes faster than traditional transport.

"We are getting a 30-minute head start by bringing the emergency room to the patient," said Harish Shownkeen, MD, medical director of the Stroke and Neurointerventional Surgery Programs at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. "The earlier you treat the patient the better their outcome. Patients who get treated right away often go home from the hospital instead of to a nursing home or rehabilitation."

If a patient is suffering stroke-like symptoms, both the Mobile Stroke Unit and Warrenville Fire Protection Advance Life Support (ALS) ambulance will be dispatched. The patient will undergo an assessment and CT scan to determine if they are suffering a stroke. The testing will also determine what type and appropriate immediate treatment. If it is not a stroke, the Warrenville ALS providers will take command of the patient's care and transport if necessary.

"When a patient is having a stroke, seconds count. The Warrenville Fire Protection District is pleased to partner with Northwestern Medicine to offer this life-changing and lifesaving initiative to the residents and visitors of our district," said Andrew Dina, Fire Chief, Warrenville Fire Protection District. "Through this partnership we will improve outcomes and save lives. Introducing the Mobile Stroke Unit program aligns with the fire district's vision of pursuing excellence in emergency medical services by continually finding ways to make improvements in all that we do."

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital's Mobile Stroke Unit can be directly dispatched by 9-1-1 to patients within the hospital's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) area, which includes Carol Stream, Bartlett, Glen Ellyn, Glenside, Hanover Park, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield. For areas in the secondary region that includes St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Elburn, Big Rock, Sugar Grove, North Aurora and Fox River/Countryside, fire protection districts and ambulance services can request the MSU for patients who meet stroke criteria.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Illinois and the leading cause of serious long-term disability according to the Centers for Disease Control.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.

• Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?

• Time: if the person shows any of these symptoms, time is IMPORTANT. Call 911 fast. Brain cells are dying!

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital has earned the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by The Joint Commission. The highest level of stroke certification, this designation recognizes the significant resources in staff, training and state-of-the-art infrastructure that comprehensive stroke centers must have to treat complex cases.

The Warrenville Fire Protection District serves the west central portion of DuPage County. The fire district covers 18 square miles of residential, commercial and medium high-rise buildings serving a population of 20,000 residents that increases with a daytime labor composition of 40,000 people within the fire district.

To learn more about Northwestern Medicine, visit

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