Roseville Firefighters Train to Better Work with Those Suffering from Dementia

May 10, 2018 07:17 PM

Roseville firefighters participated in a first-of-its-kind training for the department Thursday.

It was titled "Taking a Walk in Their Shoes," and it was meant to help firefighters be more effective during emergencies involving people with dementia.


Jay Benedict, with Cherrywood Pointe of Roseville at Lexington, opened the training session by saying: "We need to handicap your senses."

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The firefighters thought they were coming to listen to a talk. They didn't realize they'd be experiencing a real-life scenario.

Instead of putting on their usual gear, they donned special goggles with Vaseline on them to make it difficult to see.

"You're already feeling lopsided that way," firefighter Sam Baker said, "and then they give you a headset with a lot of loud noises. And you get two handfuls of sunflower seeds to put into your shoes."

He added, "They give you these gloves, and take a couple of fingers and tape them together. So already, you're trying to figure out how you're going to do this. It's probably not the same as having dementia. But for training purposes, it's pretty good."

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Benedict gave each firefighter several tasks to complete inside of a room at the home.

"We deal with dementia probably every day," Baker said.

Baker explained that the department gets 5,000 calls each year, 4,000 of which are medical calls.

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"I'm pretty good at unlocking a cap," Baker said. "But it was pretty hard with the gloves, and then trying to figure out the red versus orange and day versus night, and I dropped a couple on the floor."

In real life, that could put the person with dementia - or their grandchildren or pets - in danger.

After the initial training, firefighters said they learned to ask fewer questions at a time and be very specific when they come into contact with people with dementia.

"Anytime that they can learn how to better deal with dementia, it's going to be huge and life-saving for those residents," Benedict said.

Over the course of this year, Cherrywood Pointe of Roseville at Lexington said it plans to roll-out techniques on de-escalation: how to calm down people with dementia during emergencies.

It also plans to have similar training opportunities with police officers.


Brandi Powell

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