UF Health Jacksonville and Mayo Clinic Jacksonville team up for EMS stroke education

Published: June 30, 2014
Scott L. Silliman, M.D. Scott L. Silliman, M.D.
Charles G. Graham, M.D. Charles G. Graham, M.D.

Initiative Will Provide Advanced Training to Treat Stroke Patients in Florida and Georgia

Northeast Florida’s two health care leaders in stroke prevention and care are joining forces to offer unprecedented training to the region’s first responders and emergency personnel.

UF Health Jacksonville and Mayo Clinic, whose award-winning stroke centers were both among the first 50 Joint Commission-certified stroke centers in the nation, will begin conducting quarterly, high-level training sessions starting in July, alternating between their campuses. The evidence-based courses will cover a range of topics and medical conditions aimed to help attendees develop advanced expertise and special tactics for use in lifesaving efforts.

The hospitals, which are both academic health centers with advanced teaching equipment, will utilize their state-of-the-art simulation centers to offer hands-on training to emergency personnel from Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The participants will be able to work with sophisticated simulators of human patients that can be programmed to show signs of an impending stroke and appear to experience a stroke. The simulators even talk, giving emergency personnel a chance to test their knowledge in the most realistic way possible without involving an actual patient.

“EMS is one of the most important – and, unfortunately, largely ignored – components of stroke care,” explained University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville neurology professor Scott Silliman, M.D., the medical director of UF Health’s Comprehensive Stroke Program. “We want to emphasize that they are a critical part of our team.”

Silliman, who has been the head of UF Health’s stroke program since its inception in 1996, has been a longtime leader in involving emergency personnel in stroke education. He explained that every minute counts after a person has a stroke, so it’s critical that emergency personnel recognize the signs and begin administering stroke care while en route to a stroke center. He is joined by his colleagues at Mayo Clinic in emphasizing the importance of working together, both on a hospital and an emergency response level, to save lives.

Both hospitals have been involved in lecture-based EMS education for more than a decade, but this new effort will combine lectures with hands-on skill training and take advantage of the advanced resources of both facilities.

“The goal of this program is to leverage the vast resources available in our community in an effort to support our regional EMS community,” said Charles Graham, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, which also began its stroke program in the late 1990s.

But Graham, who completed training with University of Florida, adds that the program is broader than just stroke and cerebrovascular care. “Our hope is that by providing high-quality collaborative educational programming, medical direction and communications – on a vast number of healthcare conditions – we can more efficiently equip our partners with the education and tools necessary to provide seamless care to our patients and our community. We know that by working as a team we can ensure that the communities of North Florida and Southeast Georgia receive the best possible health care.”

A stroke is caused by a clot or hemorrhage that interferes with blood flow in the brain. Beyond the clot or hemorrhage, brain cells are starved of oxygen and food, dying at an incredible rate of 2 million per minute. Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of an acquired physical disability. The Centers for Disease Control estimates stroke costs the United States approximately $36.5 billion annually, which includes the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work.

The first training session will be held at Mayo Clinic’s Jacksonville campus, July 21, 2014. The second will be offered in October at UF Health Jacksonville, and then the sessions will continue to rotate between the campuses on a quarterly basis.

The sessions are free of charge for all EMS teams in Florida and Georgia. To register, please contact Lesia Mooney, R.N., M.S.N., Mayo stroke coordinator, at 904-953-7470 or, or Wayne Hodges, R.N., P.M.D., UF Health Jacksonville stroke outreach educator, at 904-244-9098 or

Scott L. Silliman, M.D.
Charles G. Graham, M.D.

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