To improve the outcomes of stroke patients, public awareness of stroke must be increased and emergency medical services (EMS) response to stroke calls optimized. Rapid response to stroke is key, as emphasized in the American Stroke Association's "Stroke Chain of Survival," which consists of four components--rapid recognition of and reaction to stroke warning signs through immediate use of the 9-1-1 system; rapid EMS assessment; priority transport with prenotification of the receiving hospital; and rapid and accurate diagnosis and treatment at the hospital. Neither the risk factors for stroke nor the most common warning signs are adequately known to the public in general, and in particular, to the groups at highest risk for stroke. Effective education through mass media and health care professionals is paramount in increasing the public's awareness of stroke. Whether tools to aid dispatchers and paramedics in stroke diagnosis, assessment, and management can improve stroke patients' outcomes requires further study, as does the value of designated stroke centers. Overall, according stroke the same urgency as acute myocardial infarction, from both the public and the prehospital provider perspectives, might improve stroke patient outcomes.