Focus on Preventing Falls: Gilbert Fire & Rescue Tackles Its Most Common Call
In our 2019 National Citizen Survey, you told us that safety is one of your top priorities. So as we plan for our future, we are keeping safety top of mind. Let’s take a look into how the Gilbert Fire and Rescue (GFR) Department utilizes data to prepare for the needs of the community.
Gilbert’s population and calls for service are increasing. GFR utilizes the data received through the department’s calls for service, such as 9-1-1 calls, to develop strategies and programs that target those risks to reduce their occurrence.
What’s the number one call? Falls. This includes responding to an injury from a fall, a non–life-threatening fall, or someone needing help to stand up or move.
We’ll need to dig deeper to understand what’s occurring and strategically plan to help prevent falls in the future. Let’s dive into GFR’s data from January 1, 2017 – July 31, 2019.
Who’s falling in Gilbert?
GFR treated adults over 65 years old for falls significantly more than any other age group. We’re also seeing that women tend to fall more often than men.
Even though we’re only seeing data up to August 2019, the trend is shaping up to be similar to previous years.
Let’s also connect to Census data to get a bigger picture. Since 2009, the community’s demographics have been changing. The median age for Gilbert residents was 30.6 in 2009 and continues to increase as the population increases. Today, the median age is 33.6 years old.
The percentage of residents over the age of 65 continues to grow each year as well. In 2016, the number of residents over the age of 65 surpassed the population of residents under five years old for the first time.
What does this mean? Gilbert is steadily getting older, but we’re seeing the percentage of citizens over 65 years old also increase in cities and towns nearby.
Are you connecting the dots, too? 😉 Gilbert could potentially see a big increase in the calls for service regarding falls because the 65 and older population is growing. This is why we need to focus on helping reduce the number of falls in the community.
How can we reduce the number of falls for our growing older population in Gilbert?
GFR is repurposing its educational resources to get ahead of this issue and develop strategies and programs that target fall prevention to reduce their occurrence in Gilbert. We can’t do it alone though! We want to grow smarter, together, and have partnerships with local businesses, schools, and residents to ensure that they have the necessary information to stay safe in the community we love to serve.
One partner that we’re working with is Dignity Health Trauma Services. Between 2017-2018, they received 116 patients related to falls over the age of 55 years old at Chandler Regional Medical Center from Gilbert Fire and Rescue. GFD brings a majority of fall victims to Chandler Regional Medical Center because trauma services are based out of this hospital.
Cost of Falls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fall injuries are among the 20 most expensive medical conditions and the average hospital cost is over $30,000. At Chandler Regional Medical Center, patients are staying in the hospital on average of 4.69 days in 2017 and 3.69 days in 2018.
Dignity Health Trauma Services is closely watching the number of patients with fall injuries and monitoring the increase of Gilbert’s aging population. To help prevent falls and better serve residents, they teamed up with GFR to help tackle the rising issue.
Gilbert Fire & Rescue is using a unique model to reduce the number of falls and help people. Together, we will educate the public on the risks of falls and how to prevent them through the partnership model with Dignity Health Trauma Services.
By 2030, Gilbert is expected to be fully built out, with an anticipated population of over 300,000. It’s estimated that 15% of that population will be over the age of 65 years old. Gilbert Fire & Rescue’s Community Division is committed to keeping the community a safe place to live, work, and play as our community ages and we move toward becoming the City of the Future.
Fall Prevention Tips:
We are just getting started on the fall prevention program and want you to be involved to help spread the word. The best call for service is the one we prevented. Follow the checklist below to reduce your risk of falling.
Stay tuned for more community programs and updates on this story! Visit our website for a full list of GFR’s fall prevention tips and/or to request a home assessment.