Littleton firefighter paramedic Austin Hein trying to sort out 17 cents from the coins on the dresser, with impaired vision and near complete loss of manual dexterity was challenging.
Firefighter paramedics and first responders in general can be considered the closest thing to being super heroes as humanly that is possible. As is the case with super heroes they have at least one thing that hinders their super powers as is the example with Superman and kryptonite. Although firefighters and first responders may not have super human powers, they do have training and skills that go above and beyond the norm that are associated in doing most normal everyday tasks.
With the rise in cases of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia, an expected increase of 33 percent by 2025, firefighters and paramedics are now experiencing more encounters with these kinds of patients. New approaches in how firefighters and first responders deal with such encounters are being explored with added training.
Littleton firefighter paramedic Austin Hein and engineer paramedic Roxy Ligrani found it difficult to sort and pair socks with their sight and manual dexterity diminished.
To get a better understanding of what an individual with dementia may going through, superhero firefighters may have to experience a loss of their superpowers, primarily those most of the population takes for granted. Highline Place an Anthem Memory Care residence hosted a Virtual Dementia Tour by Second Wind Dreams, where Littleton firefighter paramedics had the opportunity to experience what it may be like to be afflicted by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Firefighters were provided with equipment that basically hindered, if not completely blocked, their vision, hearing, manual dexterity and overall motor skills. Items provided were special glasses that blurred and blocked vision, earphones that provided white noise to simulate hearing loss, special gloves with fingers that were stitched together hindering their hands and overall manual dexterity, and special shoe inserts with contours and pressure points that simulated neuropathy and arthritis. Figuratively giving the experience of what it’s like to be in the shoes of those afflicted Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The firefighters were then asked to perform simple everyday tasks such as setting a table for a meal, counting coins out for change, sorting and folding clothes and getting medication along with filling up a glass of water, and these tasks were timed. After completing the exercise, firefighters completed a questioner and had a discussion about their experience, and how it changes their perspective in approaching future situations in both emergency and non-emergency calls involving people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Littleton firefighter paramedic Captain Michael Ryan attempts to set a dinner table while wearing equipment that have greatly reduced his overall motor skills including sight, hearing and manual dexterity.Photos by Stefan Krusze.
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