Garry Preston was running across the road to catch his train to work one morning in April 2011 when his right leg gave way and he collapsed outside Ashfield railway station.
He dragged himself to a bench and called his wife, Debbie. Hearing her husband's slurred speech and recognising it as a sign of stroke, Mrs Preston raced down to the station and called an ambulance: ''I think my husband's having a stroke,'' she said.
The ambulance got him to hospital within 45 minutes, where he received drugs to break down the blood clot that was preventing blood from flowing to his brain.
In that sense, Mr Preston was lucky. About 60 per cent of stroke victims do not get to hospital fast enough to receive treatment that can save life and prevent disability.
''If I didn't get to hospital on time, I probably would have ended up paralysed or dead,'' the 58-year-old said.
Mr Preston needed rehabilitation to regain movement and restore his speech but returned to his job as a carpenter on a part-time basis within three months of his stroke. Two months later, he was working full time. Since his stroke he has completed seven triathlons and two City2Surf fun runs.
On Monday, federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced a $2 million national campaign to raise awareness of the signs of stroke and the importance of getting help quickly.
''Time is absolutely critical'' Ms Plibersek told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
''If someone who's having a stroke can get to hospital quickly, they can receive treatment straight away and their chances of survival and indeed full recovery are vastly enhanced.
''The longer treatment is delayed, the poorer the prognosis for the patient.''
Earlier Ms Plibersek said stroke is the second most common cause of death in Australia
''But lives can be saved and disability prevented if people get critical treatment in time after having a stroke.''
She said in about seven of every 10 cases where treatment was delayed, it was because people had not recognised the signs, such as a drooped mouth, slurred speech and being unable to lift both arms.
''The message is clear - know the signs of stroke and if you see any of them, call 000 immediately,'' Ms Plibersek said.
The campaign will be run by the National Stroke Foundation on TV, radio, the internet and in print over the next 12 months.