“It doesn’t really give a true picture of our fall situation,” he said. “Falls play a big role in the number of people we see.”
Parkland Ambulance responded to more than 8,000 calls in 2012, and while 209 falls may seem like a small percentage of the total, Karasiuk said some of the other calls may have actually been for residents who suffered from a fall.
Giving the example of someone who may have injured his arm during a fall, Karasiuk said the fall statistic could be left out if the crew circles the primary issue as being the injured arm and not the fall.
“Because of our coding system, the crew might circle arm first and then the person would say, well, I hurt my arm because I fell two days ago,” he said. “The arm is the primary reason, but the fall is why you called. But because it happened two days ago, it doesn’t become a primary cause.
“There are more situations that we will respond to that will have a fall as a secondary or even a third response code,” he added.
About two-thirds of the falls that Parkland Ambulance responded to last year were among residents older than 65.
“It’s an interesting number in terms of our aging population,” Karasiuk said. “A lot more people are likely to fall because they are a little bit older … While a fall can be life changing for a younger person, it is more often significantly life changing when you’re older.”
As well, Parkland Ambulance doesn’t differentiate falls as per what type of injury a person may have, whether it’s related to ice and snow or falling out of a bathtub.
“Falls can happen due to a lot of reasons. When you deal with ice and snow in the winter time, falls are bound to happen,” he said. “It’s not because people don’t take care of their sidewalks. A lot of it can be just people being in a hurry.
“(Perhaps) you’re in the downtown area and any other area in the city and the store you want to get to is on the other side of the street,” he continued. “Rather than crossing at the corner, you decide to walk across in the middle. Again, the streets may be a little bit slippery.”
Karasiuk suggested buying good footwear, taking more time and reducing clutter in the home as a few ways to prevent falls.