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Giving Back to Berkeley County connection makes lasting difference for The ARK of SC

December 18, 2017 by Angel Rose Tinnirello

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of people with Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia will wander, and if a person is not found within 24 hours, up to half of those individuals will suffer serious injury or death. No one understands this better than Peg Lahmeyer, the Executive Director of The ARK of SC.

In early 2017, The ARK received a grant from the Giving Back to Berkeley County Fund to support a new initiative – their Law Enforcement – First Responder Training Series. When we talked to Peg at the Giving Back to Berkeley County Celebration in January, she had just completed a train-the-trainer session held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Myrtle Beach.

Over the course of two days, Peg, along with The ARK of SC team Naomi Cills, Nicky Styslinger and Tara Mingioni learned techniques specific to Law Enforcement and First Responders for recognizing and responding to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Complete with book learning and role play, these sessions ensure participants leave equipped with an understanding of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as well as the tools to respond to situations, like speaking with a caretaker/family member if a person with Alzheimer’s has gone missing. Once completed, each trainee is certified to lead train-the-trainer sessions in their home county.

As luck would have it, many involved members of the community attended our 2017 Giving Back to Berkeley County Fund Celebration. One of them was former Detective at Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, Brian Fenton, a member of the fund’s 2016-17 Grants Committee. After having a conversation with Peg at the Celebration, Brian immediately jumped on the bandwagon and began getting The ARK connected with Law Enforcement and First Responder Training Officers in Dorchester County and neighboring counties. Dorchester County EMS hosted the first trial session in September of 2017 and 70 people attended this abbreviated two-hour training.

After completing this session, Doug Warren, Director of Dorchester County EMS, said “this training helps us to better communicate with and manage patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia in case of a medical emergency, and/or any emergency related to their disease. It reinforces our commitment to provide the best level of care to our entire community.”

Peg and The ARK of SC team remember light bulbs going off for trainees during this first trial session with Dorchester County EMS:

“First, the group’s eyes were opened to new, inventive ways for First Responders and Law Enforcement to respond and interact with a person with Alzheimer’s, their caretaker or a concerned family member. Then, participants began to parallel the situations we were practicing to situations that they may encounter in and out of work.

Many people are in some way, shape or form, a caregiver for a grandparent, an aunt/uncle or another loved one. Finding a piece of yourself reflected in the people we are working with – that’s really what makes it click.”

Last month, Peg told us, “that conversation at the Giving Back to Berkeley County Celebration propelled us toward our first trial run with Dorchester County EMS, and has helped us prepare for leading these train-the-trainer sessions in 2018.”

Each session will hold a max of 25 individuals, and the group plans to host one session per quarter come 2018. By the end of next year, The ARK aims to have between 50-100 individuals certified to lead these Law Enforcement – First Responder training sessions.

We’re proud to serve as a partner to The ARK and as a convener for the people and organizations connected by their service to our region. Stay tuned for more information on The ARK’s Facebook page – the group plans to host the first official train-the-trainer session on January 16th and 17th in 2018.

According to Peg and the team, “the door is open for anyone who is interested in attending.”

Learn more about this grantee at www.thearkofsc.org.

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