Head injuries, fractures, even death. All are possible consequences of what many of us might think of as something relatively minor: A fall. But falls are the leading cause of trauma-related death for people 65 and older. As our Sarah Blazonis tells us, an Onondaga County ambulance service has started a new program aimed at cutting down on such injuries in its community.
CAMILLUS, N.Y. -- It's a call medics with WAVES Ambulance are used to getting.
"We'll be called for an individual that's fallen and whether they're uninjured and just need help getting up or they have experienced an injury, it's one of the more common injuries we see," said Daniel Taylor, public relations officer for WAVES.
They responded to more than 250 fall reports in 2011 alone.
"So, this is the kit that we bring into the residents' home."
Taylor says they're now hoping a few simple tools can help lower that number.
"This was an opportunity that we saw to be proactive, that we are able to visit people in their homes, identify very readily what the hazards are and with some very simple changes modify some of those hazards, potentially remove them altogether," he said.
It's called the Fall and Injury Prevention Campaign. Some of those hazards EMTs will be looking for include dim rooms or hallways and cords seniors might trip over.
"This is a unique program to Central New York. We're the only ambulance services agency offering something like this. It's also entirely free. There’s absolutely no cost to the residents," Taylor said.
WAVES says each appointment takes between 15 and 40 minutes, depending on how many hazards they find. And taking that little bit of time now could help prevent seniors from winding up in here down the road.
"For a lot of seniors, it can be a pretty devastating event, whether we're talking about head injury secondary to the fall, we're talking about fracture," Taylor said.
Taylor says the goal is to keep seniors active and healthy so they run into him and his colleagues less often.
People are invited to learn more about the program at WAVES' free Thanksgiving Dinner for seniors. It's being held at the Camillus Senior Center from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
The free service is available to residents of Camillus, Manlius and Minoa. You can also call WAVES to set up an appointment at (315) 487-1212.