The members of Bethel Ambulance Service have introduced a new community outreach program called “Sand for Seniors.” In recognition of the challenges facing seniors citizens during the winter months, rescue members will begin distributing buckets of sand when they are called to senior’s homes.

Bethel Seniors Group president Fran Head applauded the members of Bethel Rescue for identifying this need and distributing the one gallon buckets at the February meeting. “I couldn’t be more proud to live in a community where our EMTs and Paramedics take time out of busy rescue shifts in order to speak with senior citizens about health issues, take our blood pressure, and now provide us with sand for our doorways. I can’t thank them enough for being available 24/7 for emergencies, and also for all of the work they do to prevent injuries before they even occur.”

Advanced EMT Clarke Reiner proposed the idea at the rescue meeting in January, and was pleased to see the program come together within a few short weeks. The buckets were generously donated by Western Maine Supply.

Selectman Stanley Howe is also supportive of the initiative, saying “Bethel Rescue has once more shown how caring they are by this project which should greatly assist the town’s seniors in avoiding falls on ice and snow.”

Bethel EMTs and Paramedics have actively participated in monthly blood pressure clinics, offered a scholarship for graduating seniors, safety tours for schools, and distributed glow sticks at the Crescent Park Halloween parade. In addition to 911 responses, Chief David Hanscom recently learned that Bethel Rescue has become a Gold HeartSafe Community.

The HeartSafe Community Award is a statewide recognition for EMS agencies which increase the number of defibrillators, as well as introduce outreach programming. Bethel Ambulance Service was named a “gold level” recipient of the award, in large part due to coordination by Assistant Deputy Chief Berta Broomhall and longtime member Haley Tripp.

The HeartSafe Community designation is based on what the American Heart Association calls the chain of survival. The four important links of the chain include: early access to emergency care, early CPR, early defibrillation, and early advanced care. To receive a HeartSafe honor, services are awarded points called heartbeats in cardiac problem prevention areas to determine their level of qualification.

HeartSafe Communities is a program that helps Maine people improve the chances for survival and recovery after sudden cardiac arrest. The program is a partnership between the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Cardiovascular Health Program and the Maine Emergency Medical Services Office. It recognizes local efforts to provide strong cardiovascular-related emergency care for residents and visitors.

The Sand for Seniors program is just one of the ways in which the ambulance service is increasing the presence in the Bethel area. According to Deputy Chief Crystal Aylward, “we have extended sporting event coverage for local teams at no charge, and have continued to provide stand-by medical support for major events in town throughout the year. Our priority will continue to be giving back to the community which has shown us so much support.”

Chief Hanscom continued “Bethel Rescue members have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the responsibility of providing emergency medical services, and the sand for seniors program is the latest installment of outreach programming offered to Bethel area residents.”

Programs like this are funded through the Bethel Emergency Ambulance and Rescue Service (BEARS), which is supported through donations and grants. To donate to the BEARS, checks can be mailed to Post Office Box 1660, Bethel, Maine 04217.

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