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|Issue # 7||November 15, 2014|
Our mission is "To serve our town by providing professional and compassionate emergency services."
We're going to focus this issue on preventig falls. This is a significant issue for our community. In 2013, Washington Ambulance responded to 73 emergency incidents for people who had fallen, representing 20 percent of our calls. The patients on these calls were almost all people over 65 who had fallen in or near their homes.
All else being equal, aging increases our risk of falling and of being injured if we do fall. Why should that be?
Most people experience a gradual decline in energy and strength as they age. Bones become more brittle. Hearing and vision worsen, making it more difficult to accurately perceive and react to the environment. Stiffness, joint pain and loss of balance, sometimes accompanied by neuropathy of the feet, affect both locomotion and balance. Finally, age often brings chronic medical conditions. There are any number of medical conditions and medications that may increase the risk of falling.
What can you do to prevent falls? First, and foremost, do your best to stay healthy.
- Don't smoke.
- Find a way to be physically active. Any activity you enjoy that keeps your body in motion will help both your health and your balance.
- Stay socially and intellectually engaged.
- Practice good nutrition.
- Pace yourself. Don't cut out, cut down.
- Be an active participant in your medical care. Make sure that all your doctors know all the diagnoses you have and all the medications you take.
These actions will reduce underlying risks that may lead to falls.
Second, go through your home and take action to make it safer.
- Eliminate hazards such as throw rugs that might slip or cause you to trip.
- Install or tighten hand-rails and bannisters.
- Remove clutter like piles of books or magazines. Be especially wary of temporary hazards (the box that you forgot you left in the hallway).
- Be sure that there is adequate lighting and that it works.
- Safety proof all bathrooms with safety bars by bath, shower and toilet.
- Install surfaces with good traction in your bath and shower.
- Check the temperature on your water heater. Hot water that is too hot can lead people to move too quickly in their showers and to fall.
Finally, consider a medical alarm or other arrangements to protect yourself from the risk of falling and not being found for some time.
If this sounds overwhelming, please ask for help. There are a range of fall prevention programs that can assist you.
|Help Us to Help You!|
In an emergency, seconds can make a life-saving difference. Please make sure that the entry to your home is marked with numbers that are large, reflective, and visible from both directions.
If you're not certain whether your home is easy for us to find in an emergency , try this simple exercise. The next time that you are driving home at night, simply imagine that you are a member of Washington Ambulance, driving down the road at 3 a.m., trying to find your home. Begin looking when you first turn onto your road.
On another issue: It helps us and the E.R. team to treat you if you have an up-to-date written record of your medical history. We recommend the File of Life, a small card with an accompanying refrigerator magnet, and have supplied the Senior Center with free copies for Washington residents.
|Washington EMT Wins Lifetime Achievement Award|
This summer, we were greatly honored when one of our own - Washington EMT and Chief Emeritus Steve Wright - was awarded the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Western Connecticut Health Network.
Steve has been involved in emergency services for over 40 years. During those years, he has served in EMS, firefighting and wilderness rescue. He is trained in Swift Water Rescue and is a member of the Regional Rope Rescue Team. During ski season, he works on the Ski Patrol at Mohawk Mountain.
Washington First Selectman Mark Lyon commented "Throughout his life of volunteer service, Steve has served as a model of professionalism and selfless dedication to Washington and regional Emergency Medical Services."
The announcement of Steve's choice as the recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award was greeted with a standing ovation by EMS personnel from around the region.
|A Brief Word About Ebola |
Given the timing of this newsletter, we feel we would be remiss not to mention Ebola. This is what we would like to say.
First, Washington Ambulance is calmly preparing for Ebola, as we prepared for anthrax, the swine flu, H1N1, and the more usual contagious illnesses. Our specific preparations are guided by our Medical Director, Dr. Thomas Koobatian (Director of the New Milford Hospital E.R.). His directives to us are based on guidance from the CDC and the State of Connecticut.
Second, we strongly encourage you to get a flu shot. In 2012 the flu killed 50,643 Americans. You're a lot more likely to get the flu than Ebola. As flu symptoms like fever, nausea and vomiting are very similar to early Ebola symptoms, getting a flu shot will protect you both from the flu and from the distress of wondering if you could possibly have Ebola.
The Volunteers of Washington Ambulance Association
Susie Wallace-Wyant, Chief