Communication is key to a successful implementation of the Remembering When program, according to Jessica Blackford, Public Education Coordinator for the Public Education Division of the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office. Blackford, whose state conducted a pilot test for the fire and fall prevention program in 2003, told the 37 teams of fire department and home visit agency personnel this week during NFPA’s Remembering When training conference in Boston, that the relationship team members develop with each other and their communities, is critical to the program’s sustainability.
“Keep in touch. Talk on a regular basis,” Blackford said. “Have breakfast together. Talk about what’s going on.”
As part of the training, fire departments have committed to conducting group presentations with older adults and train-the trainer workshops for home visitors, who will then present the 16 key Remembering When fire and fall prevention behaviors to older adults as they conduct their home visits.
“Celebrate your accomplishments,” Blackford said. “Talk to your trustees, your mayor, your fire chief. Put it in the newspaper.”
Nearly 10 years after Remembering When was piloted in Illinois, 104 communities around the state have the program. A statewide conference is held annually and at least three new community trainings are held each year.
Blackford also suggested that the teams stay in contact with potential volunteers as coalition members in Illinois have done over the years. “You’re going to find people along the way who are really interested in helping out. Keep their numbers, collect their emails. You might want to call them later. “