FACE – Is the person’s face crooked or asymmetric? Ask them to smile or to frown. Look for flattening of the nasolabial fold. The forehead is usually not affected.
ARMS – Is one arm weaker? Ask them to raise both arms quickly. The weak arm will react slower. The person may be unable to keep the arm elevated at shoulder level or even raise it at all. The person’s hand may be affected so they may have a weak grip or show slower finger motion.
SPEECH – Can you understand what they are saying? Ask them to close their eyes or make a fist. They may not be able to say names of common objects or even names of their family or their speech is simply slurred. They may understand you but they may not reply in a comprehensible manner. Ask the person to repeat an easy phrase such as “I live in Oregon” or “It is a sunny day.” They should be able to say every word perfectly. No slurring. No dropped words.
TIME – Call 911 immediately. This will activate the EMS as well as the receiving emergency department’s stroke team. Driving the person yourself to the hospital or calling the doctor or nurse will waste valuable time.