New safety programs debut

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 15/97) - The Yellowknife Fire Department has come up with two new safety programs geared toward seniors and others who depend upon medication.

The aim of the Star of Life program and the Residential EMS Rapid Entry program is to "allow people to live independently," said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Lowing.

Both programs are available to qualified applicants at no cost.

The Star of Life program is for the benefit of emergency response teams in the event there is a medical emergency in the home and the person using the program is unable to give medical information about themselves.

Once a person signs up for the program, they are given a plastic vial for medication, a refrigerator magnet and an information sheet to place beside their medication.

Emergency medical attendants responding to the home will know the person is taking important medication by seeing the magnet on the refrigerator.

Lydia Bardak, executive director of the NWT Council for Disabled Persons, said the program will be very beneficial to people living with disabilities as well as seniors.

"The Star of Life program is very helpful because we've often been concerned about people taking multiple medication and living alone."

The rapid entry program will not be as widely used as the Star of Life program, mainly because of its $200 a piece cost.

"It is intended for people like seniors who live alone and have a significant medical condition, or any adult for that matter," said Lowing.

The lockbox stores a house key in it and allows emergency medical attendant to access the home without breaking down the door or waiting for someone to unlock it for them.

Bardak said she is worried that by installing the boxes on the outside door, the person inside may be targeted as a potential victim.

"We're concerned that by identifying homes, those people will be more vulnerable. But the individual makes the final decision," said Bardak.

Besides these two programs, the Fire Department is exploring an emergency communication system program, which would work by pressing a button on a pendant.

Also becoming available through the department this month is the Carbon Monoxide Detector program.

Sponsored by the Elks Lodge, the program will enable firefighters members to go into the homes of seniors to test for carbon monoxide, install detectors, test smoke alarms and discuss safety issues.