Lecture series continues on Thursday
It is a pitiful shame and a real embarrassment that so few people show up every Thursday afternoon at 3 pm to benefit from the free lecture series organized by Wilmington's Town Nurse, Jennifer Fitzgerald, for seniors (and others) in the valley. Scot Tucker, Wilmington Town Manager, makes the time to come to almost every one of them and clearly appreciates what he has learned. This past week was Dawn Anderson, the 9-1-1 public educator for the state of Vermont who drove all the way down here from Montpelier. She was terrific.
For example, did you know that our tiny (but mighty) state was the first in the country to initiate texting to 9-1-1 to report an emergency? In rural areas like ours cell phone coverage can be spotty, but texting will almost always get through. Apparently 61% of the calls received at the call centers are from cell phones now, 199,324 in just the last year.
Do you know what is the most important piece of information to give first in an emergency call? Your location is el primo. Even if you cannot manage more than a few words, "Third floor, 22 Main St. Fire" is what they want to know. Don't dither around with a long introduction, and then, just get out if it is a fire. If it is an injury, the call responder will stay on the phone with you and ask more questions and can also give you instructions on basic CPR while awaiting an ambulance. They sit in an office for a long shift watching 2 screens. As soon as you call your location will pop up on a map of the state on one screen. When you state what the problem is, at the push of a button the responder can alert the fire station, the ambulance or rescue squad, or the police nearest to you in just a few seconds.
After Tropical Storm Irene and all the destructive flooding, agencies statewide got together to develop CARE, Citizens Assistance Registry for Emergencies. The folks at 911 and at 211, the United Way, and others worked together to figure out a plan for future wide scale emergencies. Responders need to know things like, 1. who is on oxygen or requires medication that must be refrigerated; 2. who is in a wheelchair and must ride in a wheelchair van; 3. who has a service animal; 4. who is deaf or does not speak English; 5.who is suffering from dementia?
Those are just a few of the special needs to be aware of during a time of danger. They have developed a brochure which contains a short questionnaire which should be submitted to Vermont 211, PO Box 111, Essex Junction, VT 05453 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your information is then translated into a special icon that goes onto the Vermont map screen the responders consult. They will know exactly where you are should you call 911 or in the event of a major disaster.
How often do you use 211? It is almost like having Alexa or a digital phone book. The 211 folks can answer almost any question. It is a clearing house for every sort of Vermont question. I always forget it is there and waste all sorts of time and energy myself tracking down the information I need.
Then there is DART, Vermont Disaster Animal Response Team, founded in 2007 statewide to protect animals in the event of a disastrous emergency. It is staffed with volunteers, see vermontdart.org, and plans on shelters for dogs, cats, horses, all sorts of animals, which cannot be accommodated in most of the emergency shelter situations for people. Irene woke up a whole lot of Vermont folks to the need to think ahead and plan for a future catastrophe.
Please try to attend the Thursday free lectures. September 20. is Bill Monahan, of Grace Cottage Hospital, on healthy eating, and the last one on September 27 is Vicky Mastroiani from Senior Solutions on the hidden joys of becoming a senior companion.