Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Be a Good Samaritan - call 911

The Los Angeles Times recently published an interesting article about the lag time between strokes occurring and the arrival at emergency rooms.

From the LA Times article:

"Time is so important. Every minute counts," says Dr. Yousef M. Mohammad, the author of a second stroke study, presented last week at the American Stroke Assn.'s annual meeting in Florida. "There is a significant difference in what happens when you arrive by ambulance and when you arrive some other way."

In his analysis of 630,402 stroke patients, about half arrived by ambulance; 43% were walk-in patients (who arrived on their own or were driven by someone else); and 4% arrived some other way, such as by police transport.

The study found that those who arrived by ambulance were seen by a doctor sooner, were more likely to undergo tests to diagnose the stroke and were more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit -- all factors that increase the use of tissue plasminogen activator. When arriving by ambulance, stroke patients were admitted to the hospital 93% of the time; walk-ins were admitted 58% of the time."

Those statistics can give a modern twist to the story of the Good Samaritan indeed. From Luke 10:25-37:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

For those who have the chance to be a Good Samaritan to a stroke victim, the task is even easier: Call 911. As the statistics show, a ride in the ambulance can save a life. Using that as a guide, go and do likewise.