What to do if someone is experiencing a stroke

When a health emergency happens to someone in your presence, it can be overwhelming on many levels. It can be quite shocking to witness someone choking, having a heart attack or diabetic emergency. Everyday emergencies can include broken bones, bleeding, burns, allergic reactions, and seizures to name a few. However, to help improve your ability to help in such an emergency, it helps to be prepared with first aid – this knowledge could help you save someone’s life!

Here we take a look at what to do if you are in the presence of someone exhibiting symptoms of a stroke. Time is of the essence in this case so it’s important to stay calm and spring into action.

When you see these signs of stroke, the first thing to do is call for help from emergency services; it helps to remember FAST:
Remember FAST
Face – facial numbness or weakness, especially on one side
Arm – arm numbness or weakness, especially on one side
Speech – slurred speech or difficulty speaking or understanding
Time – time is important; call EMS/9-1-1 immediately

Some other signs and symptoms of a stroke include: a sudden, severe headache, dizziness or confusion, unconsciousness or temporary loss of consciousness, numbness, sudden loss of bladder control and difficulty expressing themselves, or understanding other people.

While you wait for the ambulance, talk to the person to reassure them and help them sit or lie down in a comfortable position until help arrives.

If you haven’t yet taken one, consider taking a first aid course. Knowing how to recognize and treat emergencies, from an asthma attack or injury to an allergic reaction or heart attack, could save a life.  

Also, download our free First Aid App to have helpful resources at your fingertips should an emergency happen around you.

This short video provides tips on responding to a stroke emergency:

For more information, visit www.redcross.ca/firstaid.


See your impact in action.

Sign up to receive impact updates from the Canadian Red Cross, inspirational stories from the field and be the first to hear about emergency relief efforts.

The Canadian Red Cross takes your privacy seriously. We do not distribute or sell your email address to anyone. View our privacy policy.

Blog Archives