C.R. Fire Department 'Safety Scoop' program expanding for 2018

Liz Martin/The Gazette

Firefighter and paramedic Julie Popelka shows examples of an unsafe extension cord (left) and safe power strip during the first Safety Scoop session held June 28 at the Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station. Based on the success of the initial sessions, the free program is continuing in 2018, with a new topic each month. While Safety Scoop is designed for older adults, all ages are welcome to attend.
Liz Martin/The Gazette Firefighter and paramedic Julie Popelka shows examples of an unsafe extension cord (left) and safe power strip during the first Safety Scoop session held June 28 at the Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station. Based on the success of the initial sessions, the free program is continuing in 2018, with a new topic each month. While Safety Scoop is designed for older adults, all ages are welcome to attend.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The first “Safety Scoop” session on June 28 drew eight to 10 audience members to the Central Fire Station. The Nov. 22 session drew about 40.

Buoyed by that giant leap in popularity, the Fire Department’s trial run of monthly hourlong programs aimed at bolstering personal and home safety has been expanded for 2018. Sessions are held from 11 a.m. to noon the fourth Wednesday of each month, on the second floor.

While older adults are the target audience, all ages are welcome to attend, said firefighter/paramedic Julie Popelka, who also serves as a public education specialist for the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.

She has seen a wide range in ages this year, from kids to grandparents, and was happy to welcome a group from REM Iowa, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Among the 2017 topics were scams, fire and falls prevention, elder abuse, personal safety, and to wrap up the year on Dec. 27, prescription medication disposal. Topics in the new year range from transportation and caregiver resources to nutrition, exercise, safety tips and quality-of-life issues. Speakers come from across community businesses and organizations specializing in health and safety fields.

“We have had a great response from people saying it’s a valuable tool to learn things, especially on the schemes and scams,” Popelka said.

Other popular side notes include tours of the new Central Fire Station, as well as sign-ups for home safety visits where fire department personnel check on smoke alarms and other safety concerns.

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“We want to work with the community, and we want to be a good liaison and have good working relationships with everybody in the community,” Popelka said. “I thought, what better way than to open up our beautiful fire station to the community and be able to do different presentations ... to have a platform for the messages out there.”

2018 Programs

l Jan. 24: Care Giver Resources: Kathy Good, Mercy Caregiver Center, with an introduction on resources for people who care for loved ones.

l Feb. 28: Understanding and Responding to Stress: Jim Coyle, CRFD chaplain, Cedar Memorial, on ways to manage stress.

l March 28: Safety Fair: Vendors will showcase information, products and services to assist adults and families who want to remain in their homes.

l April 25: Chair Yoga: How Staying Active Prevents Falls, by Andrea Parks, owner of Toula Yoga Studio. Many fire calls are the result of a fall. Research has shown that exercise is one way to prevent fall injuries, and yoga is one way to increase physical and emotional well-being.

l May 23: Alzheimer’s, The Long Goodbye: Ann Drobot, Alzheimer’s Association, on resources available to patients and families.

l June 27: Eating Healthy: A good diet is another way for older adults to manage their health. A Fareway Stores dietitian will share practical tips on how to do so.

l July 25: Grandparent First Aid and CPR: Amy Kunkle, firefighter/paramedic/EMS director, Cedar Rapids Fire Department. Kunkle will share and show basic safety tips that will assist older adults who care for children.

l Aug. 22: In-Home Care: Karen Huber, Home Instead, on home-care options available in the community.

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l Sept. 26: Transportation Resources: Martin Wissenberg, Riders Club of America. Don’t have a car and/or no longer drive? Learn about area transportation resources.

l Oct. 24: Scams: Mary Muehl, AARP. Scammers love older adults, and are creative in trying to gain access to your ID and/or financial resources. Learn how to how to protect yourself from people who want to take advantage of you.

l Nov. 28: What Really Matters at the End of Life: TED TALK video, Dr. BJ Miller. In this short video you will hear from a palliative/hospice physician who believes that if we plan for our death, we will live a better quality of life.

l Dec. 26, 2018: Fire/Fall Safety: Julie Popelka, firefighter/paramedic, Cedar Rapids Fire Department. Practical tips and information on how to be fire- and fall-safe at home.

If you go

l What: Safety Scoop 2017

l Where: Second floor, Central Fire Station, 713 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

l When: 11 a.m. to noon Dec. 27; fire station tour offered afterward

l Topic: “Disposal of Prescription Medications”

l Admission: Free; no registration required

l Details: Cedar-rapids.org/local_government/departments_a_-_f/fire/safety_scoop.php

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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