Quietly, it’s one of the most common types of calls first-responders deal with.
But that may change.
Spokane Valley Fire Department and the city of Spokane Fire Department are taking steps to make our community safer through advancing awareness of older adult falls, said Julie Happy, SVFD spokeswoman.
According to Spokane Regional Health District, older adult falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and deaths in Spokane County. Falls-related Emergency Medical Service calls are one of the top non-fire related calls requiring fire department response.
Over the last decade, older adult fall-related hospitalizations have increased by 30 percent nationwide. There is an estimated 50 billion dollars spent annually on medical expenses associated with older adult falls in the United States.
Locally, the Spokane Valley Fire Department, city of Spokane Fire Department, and other area-wide agencies including hospitals, are all observing the community wide impact of older adult falls.
“Being able to provide resources for falls prevention education and programs to those at highest risk for future falls often proves difficult,” said Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Marshal, Greg Rogers. “Fire departments and EMS staff are considered to be trusted sources of health-related information, providing an informational Falls Matter flyer to people we encounter on our calls is an ideal method for increasing public awareness and getting much needed information to those older adults at risk.”
“Most falls are preventable and are not a natural part of aging. The leading factor for being at risk of a fall is having experienced a fall, especially with an injury,” added Spokane Fire Department Community Risk Reduction Manager Jamie McIntyre. “We are honored to partner with local organizations in sharing evidence based falls prevention programs that are proven to make people and our community safer.”
The short term goal of the program is to connect people at greatest risk for falls with free, evidence based, falls prevention resources resulting in a reduction future falls. The long term goal is to decrease the percentage of repeat falls-related EMS calls in the service areas of both Spokane Valley Fire and City of Spokane Fire Departments.
Data from both Spokane Valley and city of Spokane fire departments has been evaluated to identify high-volume areas and stations for participation in the pilot program.
Upon completion of the pilot program, the data will be evaluated and a determination made regarding any revisions to the flyer and data collection points; additional distribution methods will also be discussed. A further determination will decide whether an additional pilot is required, whether a program roll-out is appropriate, or whether a new approach is deemed necessary.
Data collection will include:
• Count of flyers distributed
• Count of fall incidents
• Count of repeat fall incident callers
• Count of calls and website visits made to partner organizations.