A stroke can be caused by one of two things. A mild stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack – TIA),which is a blockage in the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain, or a severe stroke (Cerebral Vascular Accident – CVA), which is a bleed on the brain.

Both conditions are a very serious and require prompt action. The patient will be very scared and confused, and may present with a wide range of signs and symptoms, including, but not limited to:

  • Collapse
  • Reduced level of consciousness
  • Weakness on one side
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright light or noise
  • Slurred speech
  • Unable to smile – One side of the mouth does not raise
  • Unable to lift both arms equally
  • Severe headache – Often described by the patient, as the worst headache they have ever had

By utilising the FAST test, and acting promptly, you can help to reduce the risk, or the severity of any potential damage to the brain.

F = Facial weakness on one side

A = Arms. Unable to raise both arms

S = Speech is slurred, or can have difficulty speaking, and / or is unable to smile


In the early 1980’s in Stroud, Gloucestershire, there was an outbreak of meningitis. I was out running with some friends and collapsed with a pounding headache, vomiting, and a weakness on my right side. I was taken home by my friends, and the following morning, was visited by a doctor.

My parents were advised to wait another 24 hours, to see if my condition changed. Throughout the next 24hours, I suffered form a severe pounding headache and vomiting. The doctor visited me the next day, and promptly admitted me to hospital, with a diagnosis of meningitis.

I underwent numerous tests for meningitis, which all returned as negative. Then a doctor decided to conduct some tests, to see if I had suffered from a stroke. These tests proved to be positive, and I was then transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, which at the time was the centre of excellence for head injuries and head trauma.

I was lucky. I have since made a full recovery, enjoyed my school years, performed many managerial roles throughout my working life, and now spend my time, sharing my knowledge and skills with others, to enable them to provide care and treatment to those who need it, until professional help arrives. Hence why the name of my company is Passion First Aid.

The key is to never label anyone. Never label any age group, from any demographic. Anyone can suffer from any condition, at any age. It a 16 year old boy is presenting to you with central chest pain, then treat him for a heart attack, and call 999. It may well be indigestion, however it is far better for you to treat for a heart attack and it be indigestion, than for you to treat for indigestion and he is suffering a heart attack.

The ambulance service would much rather be called, than not be called. They would much rather find that he is suffering from indigestion, than later find that he had suffered a heart attack.

Remember, the worst thing you can do is nothing. So do something. Even if all you do is call 999.

If you would like some first aid training in relation to these and other conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Passion First Aid on 01452 446020, email, or go to our website,