Several ideas came to mind when I was thinking of a topic to write about for the month of December. Sure, there are your common themes of Holiday Fire Safety Tips, Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) and National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, but there was one national holiday that I wanted to highlight most: World AIDS Day.
On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I went site seeing in an uncharted territory and decided to see a play without knowing the name or the storyline.
It did not matter what the play was about because I knew that the renowned directors, Terrence McNally and Jane Unger, were helming the show. I quickly learned that I was seeing, “Mothers and Daughters,” which was about a mother who had a son that fell victim to the AIDS epidemic.
I was very naïve to the subject, but I came out of that room more educated and aware than I’d ever been. I wanted to write about this heavy topic in which some people still have a truculent spirit around and how a Smart911 Safety Profile can help AIDS patients and first responders alike.
According to the Voices of Youth, here are the 10 things you should know about AIDS:
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is the cause of AIDS. It is danger to individuals living with it because it weakens a person’s immune system. HIV destroys important cells the body uses to fight infections and diseases. Currently more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV and 1 in 8 of them are completely unaware of it, which puts them at risk of unknowingly sharing it with others. It is important to take the right precautions when living with HIV like open communication with life partners and medical workers to reduce risk of those around contracting it.
The CDC recently published a report, which stated that there was a 19% decrease of HIV/AIDS in America from 2005 to 2014, which could be attributed to the awareness campaigns and work to treat and prevent. It is important to not only be aware of HIV/AIDS, but also of the potential complications that can arise in an emergency for those living with the disease. HIV/AIDS patients take a lot of medication such as Dronabinol, which is an appetite stimulant to prevent them from wasting away. These individuals are often required to take an extensive amount of medications and some cannot interact with other drugs such as acetaminophen which is found in your common Tylenol.
So how does this relate to Smart911? Smart911 is a national database in which individuals can add vital information, such as current medications and location in the home, allergies, emergency contacts and anything a first responder might want to know to www.smart911.com. In the Smart911 Safety Profile, a person can enter that they are living with HIV/AIDS and what medicines they take.
In the unfortunate event of an emergency, that information would display on the 9-1-1 call taking screen to help 9-1-1 and first responders respond faster and more efficiently. Smart911 also benefits first responders because they can follow their standard operating procedure with AIDS patients such as use of additional protection including latex gloves.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public that HIV has not gone away and we can still support those living with HIV/AIDS every day.
September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and September 21st is Alzheimer’s Action Day. 30 years ago less than 2 million Americans suffered from the disease. Today, the number has increased to nearly 5.4 million according to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. Stigma around Alzheimer’s exists due to confusion around what the disease is and is not. The goal of this blog is to educate the public and allay all fear around the progressive and irreversible disease.
-Alois Alzheimer first described the disease in 1906 when he noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness where she experienced unpredictable behavior, language problems, and memory loss. He found abnormal clumps and tangled fibers in the brain.
What is Alzheimer’s?
–Signs and symptoms:
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
-It is the most common cause of dementia and accounts for an estimated 60 percent to 80 percent of cases
-Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice are estimated to be $236 billion
-1 in 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease (2016 Alzheimer ‘s Disease Facts and Figures put out by the Alzheimer’s Association)
How can I help a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s with Smart911?
-Create a Smart911 Safety Profile: https://www.smart911.com
-Include a picture of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s, their home address and maybe what stage they have of Alzheimer’s including the degree of their signs and symptoms
Why does creating a Smart911 profile help?
-A loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease can often wander when they do not recognize their surroundings. By creating a Safety Profile, you are giving first responders the same vital information they would need during an Amber Alert. The most important being a picture of the person gone missing which sometimes takes the longest to obtain and send out into the field. By filling out a Safety Profile, you are helping first responders to mitigate the response time to find the person.
-At the 9-1-1 center, they can append a note to the person’s address AND mobile number which could be leveraged in an emergency (Example: Dennis Collins suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease: introduce yourself when approaching, call the person by name, repeat information if needed, turn questions into answers).
- On your Safety Profile, you could write in the notes section what hospital your loved one is associated with (VA Hospital) so that a first responder can bring the patient to their health care provider for financial reasons and convenience.
Activity to do at home:My sister made a Fine Motor Activity Blanket for one of her patients which can help strengthen and maintain muscle, increase feelings of self-worth and maintain memory.Since patients living with Alzheimer’s disease have been performing these activities for years, they are a fixed part of their long term memory. The blanket included zippers, buckles, shoe laces, Velcro straps and clips.
During World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we encourage you to participate in Alzheimer’s Action Day by creating a Smart911 Safety Profile for your loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As researchers work towards a cure, you can take steps today to ensure Alzheimer’s patients’ safety and better protect them in the event they wander or have a medical emergency.
I always feel a sense of hesitance before tuning into the 6 o’clock news. Whether it is a mass shooting, a domestic abuse incident or a child gone missing, it’s never anything positive. I prefer to receive news from something a little more light such as Last Week Tonight With John Oliver or The Daily Show.
With that being said, I can’t be naïve to the dangers or emergencies that occur.
Back in September, I filled out a Smart911 Safety Profile which included my name, cell phone number, vehicle, address, allergies, my picture along with information on other members of my household and their cell phone numbers. I learned it was free to sign up for all citizens and could benefit me in an emergency even if my town did not have Smart911 implemented.
I reside in Massachusetts but every few months, I drive or fly to Delaware where my extended family lives. My aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins live in New Castle County, Delaware which is a Smart911 covered area. If I had an emergency while visiting relatives, I could dial 9-1-1 and my Smart911 Safety Profile would populate on the 9-1-1 call taking screen with all of my information. If I had poor service and the call dropped, the dispatcher could rebid my phone through my carrier (Sprint) to pull up my location since I accepted terms initially to be located in an emergency. It would provide a different level of accuracy which would be used to augment but not replace the information they already had. If I called 9-1-1 in a community where Smart911 was not covered, it would just be a standard 9-1-1 call.
My cousin just finished 8th grade and was given an iPhone as a graduation present. If she went missing, my aunt could dial 9-1-1 and the call taker would have the capability of querying her location because she previously signed up for Smart911.
Smart911 is vital to all communities which use the service today including: Washington D.C., Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Long Island, Honolulu, Tulsa, Arkansas, Delaware and Michigan. Although, we cannot prevent emergencies, I take solace that the information I provided in my Safety Profile could be leveraged outside of my own small town at any Smart911 supported location nationwide.