Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

First Reader

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

Second Reader

Shad St. Louis, MS, OTR/L


PURPOSE. The purpose of this project was to provide first responders with communication strategies for older adults that may help when responding to fall- related calls. General information was also provided to First Responders on working with older adults with a focus on the aging process, fall risk factors, and communications strategies.

METHODS. A series of educational sessions to first responders at a local fire district were developed and presented by occupational therapy students. Materials were developed by presenters from evidence-based resources and tailored to the target population. Each presentation focused on statistics about older adults, the aging process, fall risk factors, and effective communication strategies for older adults. Each two hour presentation consisted of a lecture, role play, and a discussion period.

RESULTS. Evaluations were completed by participants upon the conclusion of each educational presentation. Evaluations included rating the quality and information provided, and whether participants recommend this training to other first responders. The average rating was 92-98% which indicated participants strongly agree and the training was useful and would recommend it to other first responders.

CONCLUSION. As the older adult population increases, more individuals wish to “age in place”, leading to an increased number of falls among older adults, and requiring emergency care from first responders. Information and communication strategies provided through educational presentations to first responders may help facilitate effective communication during an emergency call with an older adult and also prevent future falls. Collaboration with first responders can help occupational therapists develop new role regarding fall prevention and communication with older adults.