“Time Is Brain”—NC Police Officer Jeff Merritt praised for recognition of stroke symptoms
Monday, November 19, 2012
by Christine Yeres
Last Thursday, Northern Westchester Hospital hosted a symposium for emergency responders on the treatment of stroke victims. They commended 43-year-old New Castle Police Officer Jeff Merritt for his exemplary action on July 29, 2012. Merritt was dispatched at 11:30 that night on a 9-1-1 to the home of a 57-year-old male whose spouse reported that he was experiencing “dizziness.” But Merritt immediately recognized the signs of a stroke and relayed critical information to the response team en route.
“I was on that call,” recalled Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps member Neil Bloomgarden, in attendance at the symposium, “and all the links worked well together.” New Castle PD was first at the scene. Officer Merritt had gone directly upstairs to eyeball the patient and supply oxygen from the kit officers keep in their patrol cars. “Officer Merritt radioed the ambulance and the paramedic as we were en route,” said Bloomgarden.
Tained as a first-responder, having seen the patient Merritt recognized from his slurred speech and the asymmetry of his facial movements that the reported “dizziness” was most likely a stroke, despite the fact that the patient was only 57. “Once Officer Merritt told us ‘It looks like possible stroke,’ explained Bloomgarden, “that changes your frame of thinking and you prepare mentally for how you’ll handle the case.”
NCPD Chief Charles Ferry with Officer Jeff Merritt. Merritt, 43, joined the New Castle Police Department in 2004.
See Northern Westchester Hospital’s “Stroke Center” webpage for symptoms of stroke.
“We would ordinarily have gotten the stretcher out of the ambulance first,” said Bloomgarden. “But when we got there, Officer Merritt was able to tell us, ‘The patient is upstairs. You’ll need the stair chair.’ That saved us additional time.”
“Time Is Brain”
And time, by the way, is the critical factor in treating stroke victims. As the glowing PowerPoint slide at the front of the conference room proclaimed, “Time Is Brain”—quick transport to a hospital where doctors can assess the type and severity of the stroke and, if appropriate, administer clot-dissolving drugs, can stop the stroke and minimize the damage to brain tissue.