Middlesex DA Launches Senior Health & Safety Program in Local Communities

DA Ryan and local police chiefs

Armstrong Ambulance CEO Richard Raymond, Lexington Police Chief Mark Corr, Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno, DA Marian Ryan, Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan, Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent and Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has launched the Middlesex Senior Health and Safety Initiative, a unique public-private partnership with Armstrong Ambulance Service, Inc. The event, which was held at the corporate headquarters of Armstrong Ambulance in Arlington, is the most recent of District Attorney Ryan’s efforts to engage the private sector in supporting county-wide community safety and wellness initiatives.

The program, which is being piloted in the communities of Arlington, Bedford, Burlington, Lexington and Medford, combines the national File of Life program with comprehensive, localized training for first responders on identifying and responding to elder abuse. Every day across Middlesex County, EMTs, paramedics, police and fire personnel respond to medical emergencies involving seniors who trip and fall in their homes. What sometimes appears to be an accidental fall may, however, be an indicator of elder abuse or neglect.

“A senior who is being abused by a family member or caretaker is at an increased risk for experiencing a trip or fall. Hazards in the home resulting from caretaker neglect or self-neglect also elevate the chances of a senior being injured in this way,” said District Attorney Ryan. “This program equips EMTs and paramedics with tools to detect elder abuse and neglect, and familiarizes them with the local service programs available to help seniors remain safe at home over time. We are thankful to Armstrong Ambulance for partnering with us in this new effort to better protect the seniors of Middlesex County.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury among the senior population. A recent study conducted by the Gerontology Institute at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston revealed that 1,312 seniors were injured by a fall in the five pilot communities alone over a three month period. The senior population in the five pilot communities is 5% above the state average.

In addition to first responder training, the program will make two products available to senior citizens: a File of Life Refrigerator Magnet Card and a File of Life Personal Wallet Card. The cards contain all of the vital personal medical information that is important for first responders to know when rendering on-scene medical care and during transport to the hospital. Having instant access to medical facts and data can make the difference in life-threatening situations.

The program will facilitate distribution of the File of Life materials at senior centers, elderly housing complexes, hospitals and health fairs; will provide local application assistants to help seniors fill out the cards and keep the cards up to date; will allow seniors to register their File of Life cards with Armstrong Ambulance so that a dispatcher can inform the responding EMTs/paramedics that a card is on site and to retrieve it; and will train first responders on how to detect elder abuse (as part of the medical triaging process) and about the association between trips and falls and elder abuse.

“We are excited to be working with District Attorney Marian Ryan and her office in this important public-private collaboration. Through Armstrong’s commitment to caring for members of our communities, we have identified a need for further efforts to protect the health and well-being of the county’s greatest generation,” said Armstrong CEO Richard Raymond. “This partnership will improve the ability of public safety and public health providers to advocate for our seniors through resource and information sharing. Armstrong is dedicated to being a key partner in this initiative to help seniors stay safe and healthy.”

Attending today’s event were first responders and staff from Armstrong, the Chiefs of Police from Arlington, Bedford, Burlington, Lexington and Medford, and community partners from elder affairs, protective services, health care, housing and legal services.

The Middlesex Senior Health and Safety Initiative is the latest public-private partnership created and administered by District Attorney Ryan. Under her leadership, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office partners with 11 Boston-based private law firms to provide pro bono legal representation to victims of domestic violence during the civil restraining order process; salons and professional beauty academies to train hairstylists and other salon professionals about the signs of domestic violence and the local resources available to clients who may be involved in an abusive relationship; the business community to implement workplace safety programs; swimming pool companies to promote pool safety and to prevent the avoidable drowning of children; hospitals and health care providers to identify indicators of child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence; and colleges and universities to improve campus safety on the 26 colleges and universities in Middlesex County.

– Submitted by Middlesex DA Marion Ryan’s office

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