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ULM professors conduct training on dementia for local law enforcement

Published June 27, 2016

MONROE, La. — First responders across the U.S. are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges they face when interacting with patients suffering from dementia. Two professors at the University of Louisiana Monroe are making sure that first responders in northeast Louisiana are equipped with the proper training to make those interactions the most effective.

Dr. Karen Kopera-Frye, Biedenharn Endowed Chair and Professor in Gerontology, and Dr. Attapol Kuanliang, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, conducted a one-day training for multijurisdictional public safety units on June 22, 2016 at ULM's Campus Police building in Filhiol Hall.

The training is part of a U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance federal grant awarded to Co-PIs Kopera-Frye and Kuanliang entitled, “Project Found: Fostering Officer and University Networking for Dementia.”

Over 35 deputies, officers, EMS staff, and other agents from across northeast Louisiana attended the training.

The purpose of this federal grant is two-fold: 1) to train law enforcement and first responders on how to interact with elders they may come across wandering from dementia; and 2) to enroll loved ones suffering from dementia with Medic-Alert type free bracelets so they can be returned home quickly and safely.

The training, developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), involved sharing information about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), communication strategies for public safety when encountering an elder suffering from AD, search and rescue strategies to find a missing elder with AD, and community resources to aid public safety endeavors. 

The training involved a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach so that public safety attendees can share learned information with their agency staff. 

“We had an overwhelming response and had to turn away individuals, but we will conduct training in early August to meet this need,” Kopera-Frye noted. “Dr. Kuanling and I are pleased at the response to this very important project and training in our community. It reflects the ever-increasing prevalence of AD among our community elders and the appetite for education about this issue among first responders in our community.” 

Kopera-Frye and Kuanliang expressed their appreciation to the ULM Police Department for use of the facilities and ULM Police Director Tom Torregrossa and Assistant Director Mark Johnson for working with them on this important project.