Of the 34 pedestrian fatalities recorded in Toronto so far, a total of 22 have been seniors 65 years and older.
Obvious to Constable Jason Peddle that seniors seem to be more vulnerable when using city streets, he approached Joanne Banfield, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre trauma injury prevention manager, for assistance.
She runs a program – iNavigate – that focuses on senior pedestrian education and was developed in response to the disproportionately high rate of injury and death on streets and roadways among those 65-years of age and older.
Banfield has transformed the way in which trauma injury prevention is delivered by moving away from the didactic approach to a truly unique and technologically innovative format.
“The training was geared at making seniors aware and conscious of changes in their bodies and mental processes that may contribute to them being vulnerable,” said Peddle, who was among 18 officers recently trained on the iNavigate program. “There are physical changes associated with ageing such as becoming less agile and a decrease in vision and hearing which makes seniors more vulnerable to making mistakes.”
Peddle reiterated that the elderly are in a demographic that make them vulnerable.
“We are not trying to scare them into staying at home,” he said. “So there is a delicate balance there. That is where this training we have received is a little different than your everyday pedestrian training. We are encouraging people not only to follow the rules of the road and cross crosswalks and all the regular tips you give to pedestrians. We want them to take some time to think before they go out. If you are diabetic, have you taken your medicine? You also should remember to take your medicine and check to see if the batteries in your hearing aids are functioning.”
Constable Gary Gomez, of 42 Division, said he found the training very useful.
“It’s a different in the way they have set it up and it’s very practical for seniors to easily pick up,” he said. “The information very much relates to them. Sunnybrook sees all the tragedies and trauma, so they have designed a program that’s very much tailored to the seniors.”
- Plan your outings
- Be visible to drivers and wear bright, reflective items
- Wear proper and well-maintained footwear
- Cross at intersections with traffic signals, marked crosswalks or stop signs
- Be light as possible. Avoid carrying things that can weigh you down or affect your balance while walking
Peddle delivered his first information session on October 19 to seniors at Woodside Square Mall in Scarborough.
The Divisional Policing Support Unit officer is the Service’s new Vulnerable Persons co-ordinator. Prior to joining the Service a decade ago, he was a family support worker with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and an activation therapist working at nursing homes across the city.
“I spent almost 50 hours a week on the frontlines with seniors before becoming a cop,” he said. “I guess my career has come full circle as I am combining policing and working with seniors.”