Thomas County Fire Rescue, Thomas County EMS, and Thomasville City Fire Department are now better equipped to respond to patients living with Alzheimer's, thanks to Archbold’s Northside Center for Behavioral Health and Psychiatric Care. Wendy Beatty, Northside Community Education Coordinator, offered hands-on dementia training to local first responders in hopes of better helping their interactions with those patients in our communities.
"I think it's important to be knowledgeable about the life of someone living with dementia simply because sometimes we expect them to complete tasks when requested, but communication for them is not as clear as we sometimes think it is," said Beatty. "This training helps us to rethink how the commands that we give or the approach that we might take with dementia patients may need to be slowed down and communicated more clearly."
During the training, first responders were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking questions such as 'how easy is it for a person with dementia to get through their day?'. After filling out the questionnaire, they were asked to complete a series of tasks while experiencing some of the physical symptoms that dementia patients experience everyday. Following the training, the answers to the questionnaire quickly changed after experiencing firsthand the struggles of day-to-day life that someone with dementia might face.
Mike Taylor, a firefighter and paramedic with Thomas County Fire Rescue, shares how he wishes he would've received this crucial training while caring for his father, who had Alzheimer's disease. "I felt that it gave me a better understanding of what my dad went through with Alzheimer's. There were many times I'd get frustrated trying to talk to him when he didn't understand simple questions or tasks. That training was quite eye-opening."
Taylor adds that he and his colleagues now have a better understanding of how to respond to calls that involve an altered mental status patient following the training.
"I hope this training helps EMTs and firefighters be a little bit more conscious of all the other medical needs that could also be going on with an Alzheimer's patient," added Beatty.