LVHN Mobile Stroke Unit Partners With Topton Ambulance


Increased level of stroke care reaches more than 4,200 additional residents in the region

Lehigh Valley, Pa. (May 31, 2023) – Topton Ambulance Service Inc., serving a 37-square-mile area in Berks County, has partnered with Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) mobile stroke unit to bring a higher level of emergency stroke care to those it serves.

With the addition of Topton Ambulance, the mobile stroke unit now covers more than 400 square miles in the region.

The mobile stroke unit, part of Lehigh Valley Fleming Neuroscience Institute, was the first mobile stroke unit in Pennsylvania when it debuted in 2019 and is currently one of only 20 such units across the country providing leading-edge stroke care.

The mobile stroke unit is based at Cetronia Ambulance in the Allentown area and has been operated in partnership with Cetronia since its inception.

The new partnership with Topton Ambulance, operational as of May 1, 2023, means the stroke unit will respond to stroke calls along with Topton – or rendezvous with Topton crews on their way to a Comprehensive Stroke Center, such as Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest.

In Berks County, Topton Ambulance serves about 4,200 residents in all or portions of Topton and Lyons boroughs and Longswamp, Rockland, Maxatawny and District townships.

“Having quicker access to world-class stroke care is a great tool for us to have to support the communities we serve,” said Topton Ambulance Chief and Executive Director Michael Richards. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the stroke unit.”

The mobile stroke unit does not operate everywhere within the LVHN footprint. However, in addition to Topton, it has agreements with and assists on stroke calls with Northern Valley, Cetronia, Macungie and Boyertown ambulance companies.

Ken Reichenbach, mobile stroke unit program director, said the mobile stroke unit is essentially a neurological emergency room on wheels.

The stroke unit is equipped with a camera that doctors at LVHN stroke centers can operate to evaluate what’s happening and direct initial treatment. Mobile stroke unit crews could be directed to start clot-busting medication or blood-thickening medication, depending on the type of stroke.

Doctors have direct communication with the stroke unit crew, which also can perform a computed tomography scan so doctors can get a view of what’s happening inside the patient’s brain. Communication with doctors also provides information on which type of stroke center – primary or comprehensive – is best for the patient under the circumstances.

Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. In most cases, that means blood flow to the brain is blocked. It also can mean an artery in the brain has ruptured and is causing bleeding around the brain.

In either case, the lack of oxygen-rich blood means brain cells begin to die within minutes. Millions of cells can die each minute, causing potential trouble with movement, speech and thinking.

Strokes also can be deadly and are the fifth-leading cause of death in this country. “The faster a stroke patient gets treatment, the better the outcome,” Reichenbach said. “That’s why time is brain and why these partnerships are so beneficial.”

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) includes 13 hospital campuses, four in Allentown, two in Bethlehem, one in Easton, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton, two in Pottsville, one in Dickson City, and one in Lehighton, Pa.; 28 health centers; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices; 20 ExpressCARE locations including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE; pharmacy, imaging, home health, rehabilitation and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes: trauma care for adults and children; burn care at the Regional Burn Center; kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer, orthopedics, neurology, complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center; and robotic surgery in 10 specialties. Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute, Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence, Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute and Lehigh Valley Fleming Neuroscience Institute physicians provide the most advanced treatments. Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute is a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance (MSK Cancer Alliance), an initiative that helps community providers improve the quality of cancer care and offers access to MSK clinical trials. Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the third largest children’s hospital in Pennsylvania, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is ranked as the region’s No. 1 hospital for nine straight years and has been recognized among Pennsylvania’s top 10 hospitals for nine consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest, LVH–17th Street and LVH–Muhlenberg are the Lehigh Valley’s only Magnet® hospitals for nursing excellence. Additional information is available by visiting or following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Information provided to TVL by:
Brian Downs
Public Information Officer
Marketing and Public Affairs
Lehigh Valley Health Network