BEND, OR -- Bend Fire has distributed special traction devices to the city’s largest senior living facilities. But, these aren’t for vehicles. Battalion Chief Dave Howe says the footwear is an effort to keep residents from falling in icy weather. "We are all about protecting life and property – especially life. Any way we can keep people from getting into the pre-hospital care or hospital care arena, we’ll work on that. If we can keep people out of the ambulance, that’s what we’ll do." Howe says Bend Fire medics responds to multiple fall calls every day, and that number climbs during winter.
Bend Fire received just over $1,000 in grants from the Helen Lorenz Foundation and St. Charles Health System, "Enough to supply our 10 largest senior residence facilities with a few pairs of these footwear traction devices." Each of the 10 facilities received six pairs, which are available for residents to borrow, "Hopefully, we’ll reduce our EMS call volume. The less fall calls we go on, the better. And, anybody – elderly or not – is definitely at risk of falling when it’s icy." Howe says seniors can be especially susceptible because it takes the elderly longer to recover from injuries.
The agency will re-evaluate its calls after winter to see whether the traction footwear made a difference, We’ll see how successful this is. We plan to see if maybe we can reduce our statistics a little bit and if that project makes an impact on the number of falls on slippery surfaces." He tells KBND News, "If we can prevent some and enhance people’s ability to live life, we’re all about that. And, we hope we can generate some more funding this next coming year, to do even more." Howe says the new program compliments one already offered through Bend Fire, where staff assess homes for fall hazards, like slippery rugs, poor lighting and clutter. To schedule a free home fall-risk survey, call 541-322-6309.