First aid tips – stroke

Along with heart attacks, a stroke can be one of the most frightening medical emergencies to witness. However, if you have the right first aid training and are able to think and act fast, you may be able to provide valuable help to someone having a stroke. You could even save a life.

How to recognise a stroke

First of all, you need to be able to spot the signs of a stroke. You need to think FAST:

  • Face – ask the person to smile and see if their mouth is drooping on one side
  • Arms – can the person raise both arms? If it is a stroke, they may only be able to lift one
  • Speech – can the person speak and respond to you appropriately?
  • Time – this step involves calling 999 and telling them you have used the FAST system to determine whether someone has had a stroke


All you can do if someone has had a stroke is to recognise the signs as quickly as possible and call the emergency services as early on as you can. The slower you act, the more in danger the person could be and the more damage the stroke could do. Once you’ve called 999, all you can do until the ambulance arrives is to keep the person as calm, comfortable and supported as possible.

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