Emergency Medical Services for Stroke - Minnesota Department of Health

Emergency Medical Services for Stroke

With a stroke, calling 911 can save a life. Care often starts in the ambulance and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is the first healthcare provider in contact with an assumed stroke patient. These professionals are a critical part of the stroke team and a vital link in a patient’s survival and long-term functioning.

The Minnesota Department of Health is working with EMS agencies to find ways to improve statewide stroke care provided in the ambulance, promote notifying hospitals to activate their stroke systems, and use best practices and stroke protocols.

Improvement strategies

Coordinating stroke care between EMS agencies and stroke-ready hospital emergency departments (ED) means aligning approaches and implementing best practices for optimal stroke care. The following strategies are designed to provide tools to EMS agencies that will help achieve that goal.

SimMan® EMS Time Critical Simulation Training Program

SimMan® is a patient simulator that trainers use to create more realistic stroke scenarios. The Minnesota Stroke Program is supporting simulation training in the seven rural EMS regions in Minnesota by providing one SimMan® to each region and training EMS educators to create and provide effective simulation-based learning opportunities.


The Minnesota Stroke Program developed an accredited eLearning course to focus on training on stroke risk factors, EMS care, hospital care and rehabilitation. The target audience for this course are EMTs and Paramedics. It is now available at no charge! This course is worth 1.25 continuing education credits. To take this course, go to the Minnesota Department of Health Learning Management portal and search for the “Acute Stroke Treatment Refresher Course.”

Exploring data

Linking stroke cases from the Minnesota Stroke Registry to ambulance runs in MNSTAR Minnesota State Ambulance Reporting System allows us to follow a case from the 911 call through their hospital care. Analyzing these trends helps us identify areas of the state where we can provide additional training and support to improve outcomes.

Public awareness

EMS plays an important role in educating the public on the signs and symptoms of a stroke and the need to activate emergency services. The MDH Stroke Program developed the Every Second Counts Stroke Awareness Campaign to provide public awareness tools for our EMS and hospital partners.

Every Second Counts EMS toolkit

To request "Every Second Counts" EMS toolkit free of charge please complete and submit the "Every Second Counts" EMS Toolkit Order Form. We will email the file once we receive your request.

This toolkit can help EMS agencies identify areas for improvement in consistently providing optimal stroke care and improving care coordination. This resource offers a variety of tools that support continuing education, performance improvement and community education. Some of these tools include:

  • Every Second Counts Toolkit Cover ImageEducational handouts about stroke
  • Opportunities for stroke education
  • Stroke treatment guidelines
  • Sample EMS protocols
  • A stroke checklist for emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
  • Ideas for stroke treatment quality improvement metrics and projects
  • Information on where to learn about hospitals’ level of stroke care (e.g., state-designated stroke centers in Minnesota)
  • Community education information and resources

For questions, email: catherine.johnson@state.mn.us or call (651) 201-4094.

Resources: Find all of the documents, tools, guidance documents, and resources produced by the Stroke Program for our partners.

Updated Tuesday, 12-Nov-2019 11:14:05 CST