South Metro Fire Rescue presents tactics and strategies for CRR among older adults
Chelsea Tegtmeier, a CRR specialist with South Metro Fire Rescue in Colorado, recently shared an overview of her team’s CRR efforts during a “Kitchen Table” meeting - a monthly CRR forum hosted by NFPA.
During her presentation, Tegtmeier outlined the strategies she and her team used to identify the most vulnerable populations within their district and to create a plan that effectively addressed the leading safety risks among them.
To begin, Tegtmeier and her team conducted a data-driven risk assessment of the entire district, which includes 30 fire stations covering almost 600,000 citizens. Their goal was to ensure their safety interventions were having an impact on true risks faced by the community. Using various resources, including NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, they identified four community risk priorities through the CRA process:
- Residential fires
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Older adult injuries
After prioritizing risks, Tegtmeier’s team focused on older adults and looked to the data to identify specific hazards, neighborhoods, and living situations correlated to risks. The data for this population showed that 40% of EMS calls to South Metro Fire Rescue were from people ages 65 and older. Twenty-five percent (25%) of those calls were the result of falls, with 66% of those calls from older adults aging in place (at home), and 22% in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In addition, one in four fire fatalities was among the same age group.
Considering a host of root causes that impact risk among older adults - poverty, isolation, mobility, resources, housing quality, language, and disability – Tegtmeier and her team developed a plan to support older adults in the community. This included establishing goals, developing strategies, and identifying audiences in group facilities and those who were aging in place.
In addition, because community partners played a key role in the South Metro CRR initiative, they identified who else in the community was addressing fall prevention, such as the health department, local agencies on aging, hospitals, and volunteer groups. From there, they developed a collaborative approach to implement strategies framed by the 5 E’s of CRR. Some of the tactics include:
- Creating resources (i.e., videos) to better educate older adults on how to safely get up from falls if they haven’t incurred an injury and offering monthly classes to address fall prevention,
- partnering with the fire marshal’s office to educate communities on life safety code requirements, including evacuation requirements and fire drills
- educating internal staff about resources available for the community to ensure that groups and individuals are directed accordingly
Tegtmeier also highlighted factors that have helped implement these and associated plans, such as preparing a timeline with milestones; assigning tasks and responsibilities; communicating goals and expectations; and regularly monitoring progress.
While the team analyzes their efforts on a quarterly basis to measure and monitor goals, Tegtmeier notes that things pop up all the time that they didn’t expect. In the end, she said they follow this motto: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.”
South Metro Fire Rescue’s efforts showcase the essential elements of an impactful community risk reduction (CRR) plan and the value of conducting a community risk assessment (CRA) to pinpoint who in the community most often needs emergency assistance and why.
If you would like to join the NFPA CRR Kitchen Table sessions and/or view Chelsea Tegtmeier’s full presentation, please contact CRR@nfpa.org
Last but not least, if you’re ready to start your own data-driven CRA, learn about CRAIG 1300™! Created specifically for fire departments and public safety advocates, CRAIG 1300 is a digital data tool that can help easily access and analyze the information you need to understand when and where leading safety risks exist in your community.