TALLADEGA -- Citizens Baptist Medical Center in Talladega hosted volunteer auxiliaries from across the district Thursday for a “Love Thyself” themed meeting, featuring presentations on fire safety and fall prevention.
“It is an honor to host the auxiliaries from across District III and be able to showcase our hospital and the wonderful work of our dedicated volunteers,” Citizens CEO Frank Thomas said.
In addition to Citizens, the Alabama Council of Hospital Auxiliaries District III includes Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga, East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika/Auburn, Greene County Hospital in Eutaw, Russell Medical Center in Alexander City and Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma.
The presentation by the Talladega Fire Department put a strong emphasis on having a plan and keeping as calm as possible in the event of a fire.
According to Chief Danny Warwick, the first line of defense is to have a working smoke detector that can alert you to fire while you can still get out safely. Checking that smoke detector from time to time is also essential, as is changing out the battery as needed.
Many smoke alarms use a standard battery that should be changed twice per year, whenever the time changes, although there are also models with 10-year-battery life. Warwick said he could not recommend a specific type or brand.
It is also crucial to have an escape plan and make sure everyone in the house knows the plan and where to meet afterward.
The plan should include at least two ways out of every part of the house. Feel doors before opening; if a door is hot, there is fire behind it; if you can safely get through a door, close it behind you.
“The door is a barricade between you and the fire,” Warwick said.
Depending on time of day and traffic, typical time between a 911 call and fire department arrival on the scene is four minutes in the city and five to six minutes outside the city.
A lack of numerical addresses on either houses or mailboxes, particularly in rural areas, can cause a delay, so it is important to display your address somewhere where it can be seen from the street. This is important not only for firefighters, but also for other first responders, such as police and paramedics.
Unlike landline calls, 911 calls made from cellphones do not automatically display an address, so the dispatcher will have to ask for one. If someone is still trapped in the house, tell the dispatcher so that firefighters will know this before they arrive. The department places lives above property, so protecting a house and contents will take a back seat until everyone inside is out safely.
Children need to know not to hide if they can’t get outside because that will make it more difficult to find them once firefighters arrive, and once you are out safely, do not go back in.
If you are waiting to be rescued, stay close to a wall, where you are likely to be found faster, and stay low, because heat and smoke rise.
Once everyone knows the plan, Warwick said, practice it before it is needed. Practicing in the dark or with a blindfold on can also be helpful because it is difficult to see through smoke.
The second presentation Thursday was from Ragan Thomas, a physical therapist and director of rehabilitation services at Citizens.
Thomas discussed issues related to balance and fall prevention, items that are crucial to maintaining health and a safe home environment. While the fall itself may not be catastrophic, the aftermath definitely can be, particularly if the person breaks a hip during the fall. Broken hips are associated with a particularly high mortality rate.
There are several aspects to fall avoidance, including strength and flexibility training, balance and gait, vision, medication, resistance exercise and aerobic exercise.
In addition to the more traditional types of exercise, he said, aquatic and chair aerobics can also be beneficial, as can the use of Therabands (long elastic bands that can be used for various parts of the body). Even basic movements can be beneficial.
There are three major factors to maintaining balance, Thomas continued, specifically, vestibular, which deals with the middle ear; visual; and proprioception, which deals with communication between the joints and muscles and the brain. At least two of these need to be working properly to maintain a healthy balance.
Treatments for chronic conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease and thyroid problems, can also impact balance. Make sure to discuss any medications with your doctor or pharmacist, he said.