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Sandy FD Hopes To Prevent Elderly Falls

Dec 19, 2014 02:39PM ● Published by Peter Worona

Like dominoes, a fall can affect much more than one person. For more information about how you can prevent falls in your home, visit sandy.utah.gov/preventfalls.

Out of about 4,000 medical calls that the Sandy City Fire Department takes every year, 20 percent involve people who have fallen, most of them senior citizens. The department’s new fall prevention program aims to lower that number.

Spearheaded by Captain Alan Bartlome, the program is designed to allow Sandy firefighters to go to the homes of seniors around Sandy to change smoke detector batteries, install handrails and do other things to make their homes safer, such as identifying trip hazards. Anyone interested in the department’s assistance can call and schedule an appointment, but emergencies will be given priority.

Cline said that since they’re still in the process of rolling the program out, they haven’t gone to any homes yet. When they do, he said he’ll send two firefighters out of a four-man crew.

A checklist has been created to help people take better care of themselves and their surroundings, such as clearing away clutter, using nightlights around walking paths, and getting annual vision and hearing exams. The checklist is available on the Sandy Fire Department’s website.

The fall prevention program, which began rolling out in early October, started out as Cline’s idea after his mother-in-law suffered a fall on a sheet of ice, which affected the entire family.

“After that, she never did go back to her home to live on her own,” Cline said. “Up to that point, she was able to cook and take care of herself, but it was a life-changing event in our family because of a fall. So that’s part of this program, too: what can we do to make sure somebody doesn’t have to go through what my family went through?”

This is the first year of the program, but the Sandy Fire Department will keep it going if they get enough support and positive feedback from Sandy residents.

If even one fall can be prevented, however, the program will have worked, Cline said.  
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