Medical emergencies occur in workplaces every day. Recognizing what is going on and quickly getting an employee proper care can play a huge role in the outcome. Time is especially of the essence for someone experiencing a stroke; every minute without treatment costs the victim 1.9 million brain cells. Doctors have many techniques at their disposal—surgery, aspirin, blood thinners and clot-busting drugs—that can stop some strokes in progress.
Often, someone suffering a stroke isn’t in a position to help himself or herself. The person may not recognize the symptoms or may be physically or mentally unable to signal for assistance. The National Stroke Association urges everyone to become familiar with the FAST test to determine whether someone might be having a stroke. Each letter stands for a different evaluation:
F = Face
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = Arms
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T = Time
If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and about 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. About half of stroke survivors are able to return to work in some capacity within a few months. While often eager to resume their careers, some may experience mobility problems, speech issues and fatigue.
As a manager, it is important to discuss possible accommodations from the get-go and to check in regularly to see whether other measures might help. Also, while you and your staff may be eager to jump in when seeing the person struggle, doing so may cause the sufferer to feel as if others view him or her as incapable. Calmly allowing the person a few extra minutes, politely offering (but not pushing) assistance and focusing on the employee’s strengths can go a long way toward promoting a successful adjustment back to the workplace.