How to respond to a stroke

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is a stroke?

Stroke is always a medical emergency. Call triple zero (000) at the first sign of a stroke.

There were 27,428 Australians who experienced stroke for the first time in their lives in 2020, which equates to one stroke every 19 minutes*.

Stroke attacks the brain, which controls the human body. The brain needs oxygen and nutrients carried in blood. A stroke happens when the brain does not get the blood it needs.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Recognise Stroke?


If you have any of these symptoms, act F.A.S.T.

      • F - Has the person's FACE drooped?
      • A - Can they lift both ARMS?
      • S - Is the person's SPEECH slurred? Do they understand you?
      • T - Call triple zero (000). TIME is critical.


Signs and Symptoms


      • Facial weakness
      • Arm weakness
      • Weakness or paralysis, especially on one side of the body
      • Difficulty speaking or understanding
      • Feeling of numbness in face, arm or leg
      • Disturbed vision
      • Loss of balance
      • Faintness, dizziness
      • Confusion
      • Loss of consciousness

What to do




Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.


Reassure the patient. The patient may not be able to clearly communicate, which may cause them extreme anxiety.

Help the patient to sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Support the patient’s head and shoulders on pillows.

Loosen any tight clothing.


Keep the patient warm.


Wipe away any secretions from the patient's mouth.


Stay with the patient until medical aid arrives.



Stroke fact sheet

DRSABCD poster

Related advice

How to perform CPR on an adult

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 000 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

Recovery position

The recovery position is one of those important pieces of first aid information that everyone should know, so we’ve created a quick and simple guide to the recovery position here.

DRSABCD action plan

The St John DRSABCD Action Plan is crucial in assessing whether a patient has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary.

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