Lea Smirfitt, executive director of the Age Friendly Society of the Cariboo, addresses a full house at the Creekside Seniors’ Activity Centre on Thursday, Oct. 25. Beth Audet photo.

Emergency preparation a hot topic at information sessions

Three speakers equipped South Cariboo seniors with “simple self-help tools” in a special presentation held at the Creekside Seniors’ Centre on Thursday, Oct. 25.

Emergency preparation was the talk’s hot topic, according to those in attendance.

“We don’t have to be afraid to phone now, because we know it’s not going to cost us our mortgage,” said Irene Rasmussen, who had previously been hesitant to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

She said she’d always thought an ambulance ride would be followed by a hefty bill.

Her husband Kai Rasmussen agreed, adding that many seniors, like himself, hesitate to phone for help because “You don’t want to be a nuisance.”

Mike Winkel was the primary care paramedic who spoke about what to do and expect in an emergency.

He outlined the sequence of events that follows a call to 9-1-1 and preparation tips to help make an emergency situation go more smoothly.

“It can be a very scary moment for them,” he said, so knowing exactly what happens when they phone for help can help “alleviate some of those fears.”

Winkel said his goal was that seniors would leave knowing emergency services are there for them and “it doesn’t matter how far out you are or what it happens to be, just activate the ambulance service.”

One of the main preparation tips he introduced is a program called Vial of Life.

The program encourages seniors to complete a form inside a small vial, so anybody attending to them will know who they are and have important information like their health card number, date of birth, medical history and allergies.

Winkel suggested keeping that information up on the fridge, as well.

Bill Rose, who attended the presentation with his wife Marilyn, said Winkel was “excellent” and that he and his wife got a lot out of the talk.

“He went through it very thoroughly … I think it was well presented.”

The free information session was hosted by the Age-Friendly Society of the South Cariboo.

Ralph Fossum, the society’s chairperson, said they have a diverse steering committee with “a whole spectrum of interests.”

Through this committee, the society connects the community with a wide range of information and services, he said.

“It’s anything to keep people active, alive and healthy.”

Fossum also noted that “virtually no one is rushing out the door” after the presentation.

Indeed, people lingered to ask more questions or visit with old friends.

According to second presenter Laura Dewar, community wellness manager for United Way TNC, getting out and socializing is an important wellness tool.

“There are things you can do to try and improve your well being. And really, the greatest recommendation I had for people was what they’re doing right now, getting out and being in the public, seeing their friends, visiting, being social.”

She said the main goal of her talk was that people understand “it’s okay to not feel okay all the time,” especially after last summer’s wildfires.

“People think, ‘What’s wrong with me, why am I down, the fires were over a year ago,’ and it’s normal to feel like that.”

She said the presentation was a way to connect the community to “simple self-help tools.”

Lea Smirfitt, executive director for the Age-Friendly Society, said the crowd response was all positive.

“People are very appreciative of getting really good, current information, especially when they see that that information is going to be helpful to them,” she said.

The final presentation was made by Brianna Clark, the supervisor for the United Way’s fire mitigation project.

Clark educated the crowd about a new free fire mitigation service being offered through the United Way.

This service includes assistance in making your property fire smart by clearing out debris, moving wood piles, propane tanks or barbecues, etc.

She and her team then remained after the presentation so folks could ask questions and sign up for the service.

For more information about any of the presentations, you can email sc.agefriend ly@gmail.com.


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