Mobile Stroke Unit

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital

Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Multiple research studies have determined that early intervention has the potential to positively impact patient outcomes. Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) located in Winfield, IL, in partnership with their local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies, has implemented a state-of-the-art Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) to bring stroke care directly to the field for potential stroke patients. This Mobile Stroke Unit was the first of its kind in Illinois, and one of the first in the world. 

The Mobile Stroke Unit is a specialized ambulance equipped with tools and staff normally only found inside a hospital. The specialized equipment and staff on the MSU allows the team to quickly diagnose a stroke on-site, and by coordinating electronically with a Northwestern Medicine neurologist, immediately begin treatment. 

The NM Central DuPage Hospital Mobile Stroke Unit is equipped with a specialized X-ray machine (CT Scanner) to take detailed pictures of the brain, and a direct telemedicine connection to Northwestern Medicine neurologists. The telemedicine equipment allows the MSU team to directly communicate with the neurologist, who can direct care while the team is en route to the hospital. If the neurologist determines that the patient is experiencing an ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain), the physician may advise the MSU team to administer tissue plasminogen activator – a clot-busting medication used to treat a stroke. In the case of the hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a blood vessel rupture in the brain), a clotting agent may be recommended and administered. This early intervention can lead to better outcomes, as stroke patients are typically not administered medication until their arrival at the hospital.

In addition to the neurologist, the dedicated MSU Stroke Care Team is comprised of a critical care nurse, a CT technician, an EMT technician driver, and a critical care paramedic. Many of the MSU employees are job sharing, meaning that they hold other positions at Central DuPage Hospital in addition to their positions with the MSU. Some of the crew members also work at local fire departments.

The Mobile Stroke Unit is now at Central DuPage Hospital.
Questions? Call 630.933.FAST (3278)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will patients contact the Mobile Stroke Unit?
By calling 9-1-1 within the following CDH EMS service areas: 

Primary: Bartlett, Carol Stream, Glenside, Glen Ellyn, Hanover Park, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield
Intercept: Batavia, Big Rock, Elburn, Fermi Lab, Fox River & Countryside, Geneva, North Aurora, South Elgin, St. Charles and Sugar Grove

Q: If I do not live in one of the cities above, how will I contact the Mobile Stroke Unit? 
A: At this time, the Mobile Stroke Unit will only be able to respond to calls from the CDH EMS Service area. We hope to expand geographical coverage in the future.

Q: When will the Mobile Stroke Unit go out on calls?
When the patient or caller reports signs or symptoms that are indicative of a possible stroke. 

Q: What if the caller does not report stroke-like symptoms and the EMS team later determines that it could be a stroke?
The EMS can call the Mobile Stroke Unit or follow existing EMS protocols for a stroke patient.

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Remember BEFAST:*
  Balance issues
  Eye problems/vision loss
  Facial droop
  Arm weakness
  Speech difficulty
  Time to call 9-1-1

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

When it’s not being dispatched to a call, this critical care ambulance will reside in the Central DuPage Hospital ambulance bay. The MSU will operate 365 days a year, 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm.


How the Mobile Stroke Unit Will Work: 

  • A patient or bystander calls 9-1-1 and reports stroke-like symptoms from within the following service areas:
    • Primary: Bartlett, Carol Stream, Glenside, Glen Ellyn, Hanover Park, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield
    • Intercept: Batavia, Big Rock, Elburn, Fermi Lab, Fox River & Countryside, Geneva, North Aurora, South Elgin, St. Charles and Sugar Grove
  • Local EMS agencies and the Mobile Stroke Unit team will be alerted that a 9-1-1 call was received for a possible stroke patient.
  • An ambulance from the local EMS agency and the Mobile Stroke Unit will both proceed to the scene.
  • The local EMS agency will assess the patient, complete the Stroke Assessment, and if a stroke seems likely, turn care of the patient over to the Mobile Stroke Team.
  • The Mobile Stroke Team will complete a CT scan on the patient on-site from inside the Mobile Stroke Unit.
  • The Mobile Stroke Team will contact the on-call Northwestern Medicine neurologist using real-time audio and video to read the CT scan and begin interventional patient care in the Mobile Stroke Unit.


Comprehensive Stroke Treatment at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital

CDH is one of the few hospitals in Illinois to be awarded the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by The Joint Commission. 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. 

Q: Who will be able to view the live streaming video on the Mobile Stroke Unit?
Only the on-call neurologist and the Mobile Stroke Unit Team that is transporting the patient will see the encrypted and secured video.

Q: What happens if the neurologist doesn’t view the video streaming, or there are connectivity issues that prevent the streaming from occurring?
The existing protocols for transporting and treating a possible stroke will be in place. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a stroke, remember to call 9-1-1 immediately.

The Mobile Stroke Unit is now at Central DuPage Hospital! Questions? Call 630.933.FAST (3278)

* BE FAST” was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. © 2011 Intermountain Healthcare. All rights reserved.