Local band teacher recovers from stroke thanks to his FAST-thinking students

June 15, 2022

The students jumped into action and called 911.

(Paducah, Ky.)  May 23, 2022  — When Chris Loe was teaching his percussion class at Paducah Tilghman High School and suddenly could not recognize his arm as he held it out in front of him, nor could he verbally respond to his students, he knew something was wrong.

“The students were asking me what was wrong and I couldn’t answer them. I was paralyzed on my whole right side and I couldn’t talk,” said Loe, 32, of Paducah.

The students jumped into action and called 911.

Mercy Regional EMS transported Loe to Baptist Health Paducah’s Emergency Department where the “meet at entrance method” was activated. The ER physician met Loe in the ambulance for assessment where initial findings indicated a stroke, including right facial droop, right arm weakness and dysarthria.

Loe met criteria for a “code stroke,” and was taken directly in for a CT scan, where new imaging software was utilized and Loe received the clot-busting drug, tPA. If given intravenously in the first four-and-half hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability.

“If someone experiences symptoms of a stroke, they should call 911 right away. When EMS arrives, they assess the situation and if it looks like a stroke, they’ll take the patient to a certified stroke center,” said Baptist Health Paducah neurologist, Claire Braun Hashemi, MD. “Time is of the essence. The sooner you get tPA administered, the better it goes.”

Thanks to the timely tPA that was given, Loe has made a full recovery.

“It’s exhilarating when we can give tPA and right before our eyes, often they get better. It’s just an amazing thing to watch,” said Braun Hashemi.

Loe credits the quick action of his students and Dr. Braun Hashemi.

“The students were amazing. I think they’re all heroes. I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for them,” said Loe.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and Baptist Health Paducah celebrates 12 years as a leader in stroke care this year. The hospital became the region’s first certified stroke center in 2010, with 24/7 neurohospitalist and neurosurgery coverage. The hospital is also designated as a Target Stroke Elite Plus Hospital, highlighting our ability to quickly access acute strokes and deliver life-saving clot-busting medications.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

The acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. is a good way to learn stroke symptoms.

  • B – Balance: Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?
  • E – Eyes: Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?
  • F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S - Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?
  • T - Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Additional stroke signs include sudden severe headache with no known cause or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.