Saskatoon firefighters seeing 243% increase in falling seniors since 2008

The Saskatoon Fire Department hopes a new partnership will help prevent more older adults from falling.

Firefighters expect around 1000 calls for service this year where someone has fallen

Assistant fire chief Wayne Rodger says the Remembering When program is helping to address a large increase in calls to help seniors who have fallen in their homes. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

The Saskatoon Fire Department hopes a new partnership will help prevent more seniors from falling down.

The department said it has noted a steady increase in calls to help people up from a fall over the years, in a report to city councillors.

It's estimated firefighters will respond to 999 requests for a lift assist this year — when someone falls in their home and needs help getting up. That figure is a 243 per cent increase in those calls since the fire department began responding to them in 2008.

Assistant fire chief Wayne Rodger hopes a partnership with the Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) will help put a dent in those numbers.

The program, called Remembering When, brings SCOA volunteers and firefighting community outreach workers into homes to identify risks before they become problems.

"From a preventative standpoint, we found a program that allowed us to get involved in order to provide some some education and some assistance prior to the fall even occurring," Rodger said.

According to council executive director June Gawdun, falls can be very dangerous for seniors.

"If you fall at a later age, you can perhaps break your hip or bones don't heal as fast," said Gawdun. "And if you live alone, you could fall and nobody would know."

The fixes to the situation are generally fairly simple. Rugs are often one factor that can cause falls, and railings in strategic locations can also aid people.

As well, information on people who are helped up is forwarded to the Saskatchewan Health Authority's Client/Patient Access Services program if they give their consent, to get access to other programs.

While the teams are out, they also check fire alarms to make sure everything is working correctly.

In the first half of the year, 13 volunteers logged almost 300 hours doing home visits and presentations. All of them are either retired health care professionals or former workers at the fire service.

The city agreed to add $32,000 to the fire department's budget to annually spend on the project for the 2018 budget.


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