“Today’s fire services don’t just wait for a fire to happen; today we plan for the future.” –New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside
There is such a misconception about the responsibilities of a properly run and supported fire department is in today’s world. Today’s fire services don’t just sit around and wait on a fire to happen. Today we plan for the future, care for our children, youth, adults, and our ever growing numbers of aging seniors. We are learning through statistical information that the baby boomer generation is aging at a fast pace, which in turn puts new challenges and issues on our community emergency services.
In New Albany alone, our fire response calls are starting to see a very common call to our residents, and that is assistance our senior adults with falls.
We have learned that 1 in 3 senior adults are experiencing a fall. Also, once the person experiences a single fall, the second fall is more than likely going to happen. One in seventeen of those falls will result in a trip to the emergency room.
Once a person falls, they may not want to exercise, may even be hesitant to move, and may adjust their way of life to avoid a fall. Once they do this, those changes actually may make them more likely to fall. A lack of exercise, movement, or activity may make it more difficult for a person to move, which in turn causes the fall.
Many things, such as rugs, small children, pets, extension cords or other items sticking up above the smooth floor surface can cause tripping. Wet or slick surfaces can also cause falls. If there is a candle or a small space heater involved, a fire in may result in the home.
These new issues that affect us all have to be addressed by somebody somehow, so the fire department is the most common agency that handles community risk reduction.
“New Albany stepped up to the plate big time this year by assigning a person to address risk reduction on a daily basis. Officer Lt. Randy Stacy will be responsible for leading the way for the current and future need for, not only of inspections and fire education of our school age children, but also for our aging population, also known as ‘baby boomers’,” said New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside. He added, “Jerry Shiverdecker was such a huge supporter and advocate for this position for the the last several years before his recent passing.”
Randy Stacy attended a meeting this week at the Mississippi State Fire Academy with other cities on how to efficiently address the growing importance of Community Risk Reduction. When the question was asked of all those who were in attendance how many have seen an increase in senior adult falls, the show of hands was almost unanimous.
“Community risk reduction is important to us here at NAFD,” Stacy said.
There will be more on this in a separate article in the near future.
–Mark Whiteside, New Albany MS Fire Chief