Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection Districts Institutes ‘No More Falls Program’
By Mike Conrad, Division Chief Operations, Aptos La Selva Fire Protection District
It is with great pride that in this month’s article I can tell you about a new pilot program starting in the Aptos La Selva Fire Protection District. The “No More Falls Program” is a joint effort between the Fire District, American Medical Response and the Santa Cruz County Public Health Agency.
The goal of this new program is to help reduce serious falls in our senior and at risk population. According to local research, half of all seniors transported by ambulance to Dominican Hospital are because of a fall. Nationally, nearly two million elderly fall victims are seen in the emergency department, 16, 000 of which died because of their fall injuries or related complications. Two-thirds of people who fall will fall again within six months.
Far too often, people who prior to the fall were living thriving and independent lives enjoying their golden years, now have permanent pain and physical limitations. People age 75 or over are five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or more post fall.
According to an article in EMS World every 80 seconds someone in America breaks their hip and 90% of these are the result of a fall. With these staggering statistics, the prevention of falls is becoming as important as the prevention of heart disease, obesity and diabetes when it relates to your health.
For many years the fire department has been able to reduce the loss of life and property due to fire by utilizing an aggressive fire prevention education and fire inspections program. We are sure that this same model can be used to significantly reduce falls and help people remain healthy, active and independent.
This pilot program will focus just on residents 60 years old or greater who live in the Aptos La Selva Fire Protection District and once the program is fine tuned the program will then be made available throughout portions of Santa Cruz County. There will be several ways that a person can enter into the program. The first way would be by direct contact, where someone can contact the program and ask to participate. A person may also be referred by a friend or family member who has concerns that the person is at risk of a fall and a person may also be referred to the program by emergency responders who deal with a fall victim or while on a scene notice conditions that would warrant entry into the program. The program is voluntary and a person who has been referred may decline all or portions of the program.
Once enrolled in the program a team trained in fall prevention will conduct a home visit. Currently that team will consist of members from both the Aptos La Selva Fire Department and American Medical Response. The No More Falls program will focus on several areas that can increase the risks of falling. The two areas that can cause most falls are health and environmental issues and the assessment team will investigate both of these areas once they meet with the participant.
Once the assessment is complete, the team may make suggestions to see a medical doctor, eye doctor or physical therapist. Recommendations may also be made to participate in exercise, strength training or balance improvement activities. If environmental conditions are found recommendations will be made to remove trip hazards, install handrails, provide lighting at night or install non-slip surfaces. Currently efforts are being made to find low or no cost solutions to environmental hazards noted during the assessment.
Participation in the No More Falls program assessment is free and we continue to look at low or no cost solutions to help a participant make recommended environmental changes to their homes. We are confident that by participating in this program people will be able to greatly reduce their chances of experiencing a serious fall that could forever change a person’s lifestyle.
For more information on the No More Falls program, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 831-685-6690.