Tipsfor First RespondersDelaware Home

Tips for First Responders - Delaware


Always ask the person how you can best assist them.

  • Some elderly persons may respond more slowly to a crisis and may not fully understand the extent of the emergency. Repeat questions and answers if necessary. Be patient! Taking time to listen carefully or to explain again may take less time than dealing with a confused person who may be less willing to cooperate.
  • Reassure the person that they will receive medical assistance without fear of being placed in a nursing home.
  • Older people may fear being removed from their homes – be sympathetic and understanding and explain that this relocation is temporary.
  • Before moving an elderly person, assess their ability to see and hear; adapt rescue techniques for sensory impairments.
  • Persons with a hearing loss may appear disoriented and confused when all that is really “wrong” is that they can”t hear you. Determine if the person has a hearing aid. If they do, is it available and working? If it isn”t, can you get a new battery to make it work?
  • If the person has a vision loss, identify yourself and explain why you are there. Let the person hold your arm and then guide them to safety.
  • If possible, gather all medications before evacuating. Ask the person what medications they are taking and where their medications are stored. Most people keep all their medications in one location in their homes.
  • If the person has dementia, turn off emergency lights and sirens if possible. Identify yourself and explain why you are there. Speak slowly, using short words in a calm voice. Ask “yes” or “no” questions: repeat them if necessary. Maintain eye contact.

Additional Resources

Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) (Adults age 18+)
Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC)
1-800-223-9074 (Toll-Free)

Senior Legal Hotline
Delawareans age 60 and older can call Monday-Thursday 9-4:30 for free legal advice from either a DVLS staff attorney or volunteer attorneys on a variety of issues. There are no income requirements to call the hotline.
1-302-478-8850 (New Castle)
1-800-773-0606 (Kent, Sussex)


University of DelawareCenter for Disabilities Studies