4 ways to promote good community health practices

Editor's note: Two EMSA employees joined the efforts of Operation Aware, a nonprofit organization in Okla. that teaches children from kindergarten to high school about drugs and how to prevent violence. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh offers ways your service can also promote good health in the community.

Ongoing EMS prevention activities such as these will continue to impact our call volume in a very positive way.

As first responders, we have the front-row-seat view of events that could have been prevented in the first place. While we manage the calls, it's done so at great effort and expense to the victim, as well as to society as a whole.

The fire service industry recognized this 30 years ago, and has been successfully putting itself out of the business of fire suppression since then. In a related article its leaders are now applying lessons learned from fire prevention to other aspects of life protection.

You can do it, as well. It often takes relatively little money and resources; what it does take is motivation to promote good community health practices. As an EMS service, take advantage of your organization's standing in the community and get good information out there. Follow a couple of basic steps:

1) Assess the situation and find the "low hanging fruit": For example, is a large part of your community comprised of senior citizens? Does your call volume reflect a significant number of elderly falls? Review whatever data you have to find an event that, if the right preventative steps could be implemented, could be significantly reduced.

2) Devise and implement a preventive activity: In my example, perhaps it's to have an "open house" at a senior center, and demonstrate ways to "fall proof" an apartment or house. Maybe a group of volunteers can go from one apartment to the next, and spend 15 to 20 minutes tacking down carpets, re-routing extension cords, and reducing other trip hazards.

3) Consider on-the-fly activities: While at non emergent calls, perhaps a crew member could look around the home to see if a quick fix could be implemented that might reduce the likelihood of a return call to the address.

4) Measure your results: Beyond the feel-good factor, make the effort to understand if the incidence of the event is reduced over time. If you can prove that your safety measures works, other projects become easier to do!

Remember, keep it simple. These projects are often labors of love. Make it count.

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