F.A.S.T.:  Time to Call 911

On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated. Call 911 immediately if you observe even one of the stroke symptoms in anyone, including yourself. Early treatment of stroke leads to higher survival rates and lower disability rates.

Time lost is brain lost.

So far, you've spent in the F.A.S.T. Experience.

In the time it took you to go through the F.A.S.T. Experience, if you were having a stroke, there is a chance you could have lost around brain cells.

An animated digital illustration of a pink brain character tapping its foot on a white background

Did you learn something new?

Do you feel like you can better identify when someone is showing signs of a stroke?


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Learn More About Time to Call

Don’t die of doubt. Stroke is an emergency. Every minute counts. If you think you’re seeing a symptom, but aren’t sure, call 911. Any first responder or medical professional would prefer a false alarm over taking a chance that someone could die or experience lifelong disability.

What do I say to the 911 operator?

A 911 operator may ask a few questions to dispatch the right emergency responders as quickly as possible. When you suspect a stroke, let the operator know:

  • The address or the location if you’re in a public place such as a park.
  • That you suspect a stroke and what symptom(s) you’re observing. Until the operator asks for more details, try to keep it to short, essential information.
  • When the person started experiencing stroke symptoms.

This could sound like: “I think my mom is having a stroke. She seems to be having trouble talking and the left side of her face just started drooping two minutes ago. We’re at 123 Main Street in Anytown.”

The operator may also ask for the person’s name, age and description — and may ask if the person is conscious or breathing.

As the caller, you also may be asked for information about yourself, such as your name and phone number.

What if I’m concerned about calling 911?

If you’re concerned about calling 911 as a bystander, you can stay anonymous. You don’t have to provide your name, telephone number or other identifying information.

If you’re concerned about calling 911 because you don’t speak English, dial 911 and simply say: “Stroke. Spanish interpreter.” Or ask for whatever language you feel most comfortable speaking. Most EMS dispatch centers use a language line that helps them respond to calls in Spanish and other languages.

I’m concerned that I can’t afford an ambulance or hospital visit.

You can’t afford NOT to call 911. A stroke can cause death or lead to permanent disability if not treated quickly.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act is a federal law that requires anyone being treated in a hospital emergency department with an emergency condition to be stabilized and treated, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

The federal Affordable Care Act generally requires most health plans to cover emergency services. Any health plan providing benefits for emergency services must cover them regardless of whether the health care professional or hospital is an in-network provider. Also, the plan can’t impose a copayment or coinsurance on out-of-network emergency services that’s greater than the in-network cost.

Bonus Material | Check out this 42-second testimonial from stroke survivor Dick.

Bonus Material | Tia’s 56-second video reminds you about all of the letters in F.A.S.T. and why it is important to call 911 if you see any of the signs.