Warning signs of a stroke
¢ Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
¢ Sudden confusion and trouble speaking or understanding.
¢ Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
¢ Sudden trouble walking, with dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
¢ Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
On July 30, 2006, Tyler Tuckness was working his second job at Best Buy when his training as a Lawrence firefighter proved life-saving.
A customer shopping for a television, Peter Montecuollo, began to experience symptoms of a stroke.
"The place just started spinning," said Montecuollo, 25. "I would drop things and pick them up and drop them again."
Despite Montecuollo's young age, Tuckness recognized the warning signs of a stroke , along with the weakness in his face and the left side of his body.
"In the emergency training we have, we're taught different signs and symptoms of different events that can happen to someone," Tuckness said. "They were very prominent in this individual, and it was very obvious in fact that he was having a stroke."
Montecuollo added, "He said that you have to go to the hospital, you have to go as soon as possible; we're calling an ambulance."
At the hospital, Montecuollo received the clot-busting drug TPA. If administered within three hours of the stroke, it can significantly reduce the effects.
"If I had gone home and slept, I very well could still be in a wheelchair," Montecuollo said.
Tuckness' quick action has earned him the American Heart Association's 2007 Brain Saver Award. He received it at a ceremony Thursday in Overland Park.
"It's kind of a shock," he said before the ceremony. "In this line of work, we don't do the job for the glory. We just enjoy helping people."
Judy James, state health alliance director for the American Heart Association, said they chose Tuckness to receive the second annual award because his insistence on calling 911 saved Montecuollo's life.
"Time lost is brain lost. Every time you don't take action, you're losing some of your brain," James said.
The local chapter of the American Heart Association presents two Brain Saver Awards each year, one to an untrained citizen, the other to an emergency services provider.
The association accepts applications year-round.