Meri Griffiths couldn’t talk. As the 62-year-old slipped into garbled speech, her daughter Keri-Lee tried frantically to understand her. “It sounded like she just came back from the dentist,” Keri-Lee recalls. “Like her mouth was packed with cotton balls.”
That’s when Keri-Lee remembered seeing a Heart & Stroke TV commercial about the signs of stroke. Slurred or jumbled speech was one sign. She called 9-1-1.
Recognizing a stroke quickly can mean the difference between life and death. FAST, a simple, four-letter acronym, makes it easy to remember the signs that can save a loved one’s life.
For Meri Griffiths, her daughter’s fast action led to a full recovery. Four months after her stroke in July, 2015, she returned to work at her nursing job in Aldergrove, BC.
“Seeing someone you love have a stroke in front of you is a horrible experience,” Keri-Lee says. “But knowing what to do was comforting.”
Thanks to FAST, more Canadians are recognizing the signs of stroke. And more lives are being saved. Here are some:
On the first night of a family vacation last July, Montreal radio host and public speaker Josée Boudreault woke her husband, Louis-Philippe Rivard, because she wasn’t feeling well. He quickly saw her drooping face, trouble speaking and right side paralysis and immediately linked the symptoms to the FAST television spot from Heart & Stroke. The paramedics arrived at the hotel soon after his call to 911.
Nancy Smith of Calgary was driving to her mom Rita’s home when she heard a radio ad with pop singer Alan Frew, a stroke survivor, talking about the FAST signs. “It’s less than a five-minute drive,” she says. “What are the chances I would hear it?” When Nancy recognized that her mom was having trouble speaking, she called 9-1-1. “She’s done remarkably well; you’d never know she had a stroke.”
Lee Anne Gaudet
After watching the signs of stroke ad, 44-year-old Lee Anne Gaudet of Saskatoon told her husband, “‘If that ever happens to me, you have to call 9-1-1.’” Five days later, that’s exactly what he did. “If I hadn’t seen the ad, if my husband didn’t call 9-1-1 immediately, I wouldn’t be telling my story today.” Lee Anne says. “I hope my positive outcome will inspire more people to learn the signs that could save a life.”
Sarah-Ann Duchesne, 27, watched the FAST ad and memorized four letters that would save her life when she had a stroke on a camping trip. “I managed to tell my boyfriend that I was having a stroke,” says the Montreal resident. “I could not believe this was happening to me at such a young age.”