"Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!"
The infamous line may seem like nothing but a commercial slogan, but according to Tiffin paramedics, it proves to be quite true for many senior citizens.
In fact, falls are one of the primary calls Tiffin Fire and Rescue respond to each day. And those who live alone and fall inside their home could lay there for days or even weeks.
PHOTO BY ERIKA PLATT-HANDRU
Paramedics (from left) Mike Longanbach, Nick Huston and Eric Boeser sit inside of a Tiffin Fire and Rescue ambulance. Tiffin Fire Chief William Ennis said ambulances have advanced to the point in which they are much like a hospital emergency room.
"There's a lot of truth on TV," Tiffin paramedic Eric Boeser said. "It really happens."
Medical alert systems have been lifesavers for many seniors, Boeser said, and other services Tiffin Fire and Rescue provide also have proven helpful.
The Vial of Life, a pill bottle that contains a form in which seniors fill in their medications and allergies, is placed in a refrigerator door and provides essential
information to paramedics arriving to a residence.
"It's pretty important for us to find out what medications they are on," Tiffin Fire Chief William Ennis said. "The captain on the fire truck can open that and see what meds they're on, and the medics can treat them appropriately."
The Vial of Life saves paramedics and firefighters from searching through medications in cupboards and on countertops, and the information also is vital for the hospital when the patient arrives.
"That way, if someone is unconscious and they can't respond to questions, that helps us relay information to emergency room
doctors," Tiffin paramedic Mike Longanbach said.
"If they're used properly and kept up to date, then they're very valuable," Ennis said. "It's important to know what is there because medications can interact with one another."
Knox-Boxes, a lock box that only the fire department can open, conceals a house key and allows fire responders to gain quick access to a residence.
"It's better than hiding a key," Ennis said. "The Knox-Box is designed to help out a senior citizen who may have trouble getting to their door. It saves us from trying to find a way in or possibly damaging a door."
Because of the city's budget, the fire department has a limited number of Knox-Boxes, but senior citizens can purchase one through the fire department.
"If someone is interested in purchasing one, they can purchase them through us," Ennis said. "It is a very secure system and the key is unique to Tiffin and Tiffin alone."
Knox-boxes hang over a door and are so secure businesses also use them.
"They're actually like a mini-safe," Ennis said.
Along with theses services, Ennis said growing technology in ambulances also have saved many lives.
"That's probably one of the biggest things. Ambulance services have changed so drastically," he said. "Basically, what you're getting when the ambulance shows up is an emergency room right there."
Ennis said a patient recently was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived, but by the time they reached the hospital, she was talking.
"Twenty or 25 years ago, she would have passed away," he said.
Paramedics are equipped to help a variety of ailments, Ennis said, including the three main calls involving senior citizens - falls, heart attacks and respiratory problems.
"That's one of the big things that citizens have to understand - paramedics are highly trained today far beyond what I thought I'd see in my career," Ennis said. "In Tiffin, our guys are as advanced as you can have."
Ennis said Tiffin Fire and Rescue is there to serve all citizens, including senior citizens.
"We're here to help them and we're here to serve them," Ennis said. "If they think they're having a problem, they should call. Don't wait; sometimes that's too late."