Fire and ALERT Help Ensure Elder Adult Safety

The Londonderry Fire Department, in conjunction with ALERT, has been offering a special service for seniors living in town for over a year now. The service, called the Older Adults Fall Prevention Program, began in November of 2010 and has since helped about 187 people in town. It allows the elderly, along with their caregivers, to have piece of mind when it comes to safety and receiving the best possible emergency help.

Through the program, representatives like Patricia Hamann, Firefighter and Community Relations Coordinator at the fire department, and Lori Silva, RN and Elder Outreach Program Director for ALERT, pay a visit to the elder’s home upon request. During the visit, the pair discuss safety precautions, medical and health information, provide a folder of useful information, and ask the elderly or their caregivers to fill out a few short forms.

Perhaps one of the most important forms asks for information about the elders in the home, including medical conditions, medications, and contact numbers for family or friends. Once the form is filled out, it is sent to the Londonderry Fire Department and kept on file for future reference. Specific information, such as “difficulty walking” is asked to be included on the form so that emergency responders are better prepared. The forms’ information stays completely confidential.

“We’re trying to get sheets on as many as we can,” said Hamann. She explained that the forms are also helpful during natural disasters, like Hurricane Irene that hit town last August. Having the information and addresses of the community’s elderly on file allows the fire department to know which houses may have the most issues.

The representatives will also take a short look around the house and discuss any problems they may see. A look in the bathroom allows them to ensure grab bars are properly installed and located in appropriate areas, shower chairs are used when necessary, and that the tub has a no-slip floor. Looking in the bedroom allows the representatives to check for multiple exits and a clutter-free floor.

The informational folder includes brochures from ALERT and the National Fire Protection Association, informational papers on topics like preventing falls, fire prevention, and a home safety checklist. Also included is an easy-to-read book about exercising and physical activity,  and the representatives’ contact information.

Though the program is funded through a grant, the service has only received financial help from the Londonderry Rotary Club and is in need of more. For more information about the program, contact the Londonderry Fire Department at 603-432-1124.

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