Raymond Ross didn’t know it at the time, but when he suddenly stumbled and fell to the ground outside his Westchester County home in April, he was actually suffering a stroke — and a home surveillance camera captured the whole thing.
“In the video you can see I'm walking towards the fence and I'm holding on, but I didn’t realize I was actually going paralyzed on my left side," Ross told NBC New York. “At that time I just thought that I had vertigo. I thought maybe I was just dizzy because I've had vertigo before.”
But when he noticed things getting worse, he managed to grab his phone and dial 911. That quick action likely saved the New York dad's life.
"I felt I was slurring my speech pretty badly. So I just kept trying really hard to get the address out," he said.
Even though it’s not the closest hospital to his home, paramedics who arrived at the scene recognized the stroke symptoms and immediately transported him to Westchester Medical Center, where there’s a comprehensive stroke center.
“We recognized that he had a stroke immediately," said Dr. Ji Chong, the medical director of the stroke center at the hospital.
That stroke care guideline EMS followed took effect in the area just weeks before Ross wound up in an ambulance.
“There is an entire system in place to make sure EMS takes a patient to the right hospital," said Dr. Chong.
At the hospital, doctors were able to give Ross a clot-busting drug within 15 minutes of arrival. They then performed a procedure to manually remove the clot.
Before and after images show the area of Ross' brain where the clot was found, with more dark coloring in the after image indicating better blood flow. Ross said he felt better immediately — and just four weeks later, he’s completely recovered.
“Everything that was wrong was now fixed," he said.
It is a success story for Ross, who nearly missed the warning signs. He’s just 40 years old and in good health, but now he wants others to recognize the symptoms.
Doctors say remember the acronym “BE FAST” — look for abnormalities in someone’s Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm, or Speech, and remember Time, because the clock is ticking.
“Time was absolutely of the essence in this case and so we were fortunate that he came in here and we were able to offer him the optimal treatment in the quickest time fashion," said Dr. Justin Santarelli, an endovascular neurosurgeon at Westchester Medical Center.
Doctors also say it’s important to call for an ambulance instead of driving a loved one to a hospital. That way, paramedics can make sure patients get the right care.
“Whether you’re healthy and you think you’re immune to this happening — it can happen to anybody," said Ross