Last week the McLean Citizens Association hosted its annual Senior Safety Summit at the McLean Community Center. The Summit, a collaboration between the Association, the Community Center, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, and the Fairfax County Police Department, addressed public safety and community risk reduction. 

With nearly 400,000 residents in the Fairfax area over age 50, identifying ways to keep this growing population safe is a priority. County leaders like FCFRD Chief John Butler and FCPD Chief Kevin Davis discussed how both departments can work together to keep seniors safe. 

The FCFRD delved into community risk reduction otherwise defined as “a process to help communities discover their risks and develop a plan to reduce the risks viewed as a high priority.” In prioritizing risk, the department encourages community members to assess past losses and hazards. 

The risk assessment in McLean covered almost every aspect that could contribute to risk including the community population, businesses, poverty, health insurance, and at-risk populations. Of the 13,410 households in McLean with a median age of  47, more than 23 percent of the population is over the age of 65 and almost 18 percent of households have a person with a disability.  

With this data, the FCFRD showed that since 2018, Fire Station 401 responded to 18,560 incidents for which fire trucks responded 29,149 times and ambulance services were dispatched 24,225 times. Emergency response vehicles outweigh the total number of incidents because for every call, approximately two response vehicles are dispatched per incident. Additionally, the most common public health conditions are cardiac arrest, substance abuse, stroke, and diabetes while the most common fire incidents are because of electrical equipment, smoking, open flames, and ashes. 

The FCFRD also discussed fire department key boxes. These key boxes are “secure device(s) with a lock operable only by a fire department master key, and containing building entry keys and other keys that may be required for access in an emergency. Because of the special or controlled design of such keys, only Fairfax County approved key boxes are permitted in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna,” according to the Fire Prevention Code. 

As the FCFRD works to access your property, you may need to find your way home. For such events, the department recommends the What3Words app. A free app, What3Words sections the world into 57 trillion named blocks. Using satellite technology rather than cellular towers, What3Words provides navigation even if cellular reception is limited or non-existent. 

“What3Words is a phone app being used to help first responders locate people who are lost. It’s a free app you can download to your phone. The Los Angeles fire department recently used What3Words to rescue some California hikers who were stuck in the wilderness,” according to McLean Citizens Association Public Safety Liaison Patrick Smaldore.

Presenters concluded the summit by covering crime prevention, safety, and financial crimes against senior citizens. According to the Department of Justice, 92,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $1.7 billion in 2021 -- a 74 percent increase over the losses reported in 2020. Financial crimes may include romance and business scams. 

Although a recording of the senior summit is not available online, future events will be accessible on the McLean Citizens Association website. 

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