Mayor's Corner: Make Use Of Our Car Seat Fit Stop And Neighborhood Paramedic Program
In Lakewood, public safety is always top of mind. That priority on safety takes many forms, and I’d like to take some time to highlight two important programs that we launched last year to be proactive in protecting some of our most vulnerable Lakewood residents. Those programs are our Car Seat Fit Stop and our Neighborhood Paramedic Program, both provided by our top notch Lakewood Fire Department.
In July, our fire department began offering the Car Seat Fit Stop again, a program that had existed in the past and was brought back to help parents and caregivers ensure that child safety seats are properly installed. Our firefighters perform the installations, engaging in dialogue with program participants while they work to show the best methods to set up the car seats. With so many different models (our fire department are aware of at least 80 models currently in the market), it can be difficult for parents and caregivers to know what to look for to make things as safe as possible. Our firefighters also go over some helpful tips on general child safety while working on the car seats – it’s a great opportunity to talk broadly with residents about how we can all work together to keep kids safe.
Currently, seven fire department members have been certified through the national Child Passenger Safety Technician training program to provide this vital service. The Fire Department is hosting a Fit Stop event every month, doing so on weekends to make it easier for families to participate. In only a few months of operation, our Lakewood firefighters have helped dozens of families through this fantastic program. If you are interested or know someone who might be, please visit the City website (lakewoodoh.gov/car-seat-fit-stop/) to find out more or sign up for a future Fit Stop session.
Last year, we also launched the Neighborhood Paramedic program to address key health and safety needs across the community, with a focus on proactive, preventative healthcare. Our human services and safety forces had observed a serious gap in Lakewood’s health and wellness environment, where preventable injuries and controllable medical issues were not being addressed. Instead, the first time issues with vulnerable members of the community were coming to light was with a hospital visit or worse, a trip to the emergency room.
The City sees this program as a wise investment that has provided immediate impact and that will have long-term benefits. We were also fortunate (and grateful) to receive a $70,000 grant from the Healthy Lakewood Foundation to help pay a part of the program’s startup costs.
The Neighborhood Paramedic program kicked off in August with a special focus on home visits with seniors to prevent trip-and-fall situations within residences. This was a strategic choice that we hope has high effect. For context, keep in mind that in 2021 alone, Lakewood EMS responded to over 650 calls for seniors with fall injuries, most of which were serious enough to require transport to a hospital or emergency room.
Since the program began just six months ago, our Neighborhood Paramedic has been in touch with 170 individuals, and our specialized fall prevention/safety focus has led to 40 in-home consultations. That has led to interventions to reduce risks of falling (e.g., things as simple as lowering the height of a bed), but also allowed our paramedic to discover other challenges facing seniors, the disabled, and those on limited incomes, and then connect them to essential health care and other social services. Those interested in learning more about the program or scheduling a home visit should reach out to email@example.com or call 216-659-0009.
I’m very thankful for the great team we have at the Lakewood Fire Department, who are always looking for new and innovative ways to keep us all safe, prevent dangerous situations, and encourage health and wellness. The high use of these two new programs is encouraging, and we hope to get more people to benefit from them, so please spread the word.