TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Deputy Tracy Suitt with the Pima County Sheriff's Department is a familiar face in Tucson, especially to 9OYS reporters during breaking news as he is one of the public information officers for the department.
But now he is talking to us for a different and more personal reason.
"I want people to know about strokes," he said.
Last week, Suitt says he felt a pain in his neck while driving home from work but it went away. A few hours later, it came back in full force.
"All of a sudden, boom," he said. "A pain came in my neck, it just went through my body it happened very quickly."
He managed to call his wife who then called 911.
"When paramedics are driving in with a patient with acute stroke they call in to the hospital," said Dr. Sarah Sullivan, the stroke director at Northwest Medical Center. "We have the stroke team waiting for them in the emergency room."
The stroke team, also known as the Brain Activation Team, was able to give Suitt crucial clot busting medication within 35 minutes.
"That is our fastest time of this year absolutely," said Ibon Utsch, the stroke coordinator at Northwest Medical Center.
Suitt has about four hours of therapy a day and says he has to learn basic things again like standing up and walking.
"I feel really good except for the right side of my body that's not working," said Suitt. "I'm looking forward to more therapy because it's working everyday."
He says he wants others to know what Northwest Medical Center can offer patients in his position.
"They've done a great job and so has my wife," said Suitt. "I couldn't make it without her."
According to Northwest Medical Center, an easy way to remember common symptoms of a stroke is the acronym F.A.S.T. That stands for facial changes, arm weakness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech and time.
Time is the most crucial factor in a stroke case according to Northwest Medical Center because the faster they can get clot busting medication to a patient, the better the outcome. Their goal is to administer that medication within one hour.
"They think they can sleep it off and get better, well that's not the way to do it," said Suitt. "If you think you're having a stroke you need to do something about it fast."