OPEN FORUM- KAREN DARLING – I recently read an article about an older gentleman in my community who was “rescued” twice by a fire fighter.   He had responded to a neighbors call, who said there was smoke at her next door neighbors home. The fire fighter not only did his job by putting out the fire, but observing the very dangerous conditions of the elderly mans home, he took a second step in the rescue.  The term firemen use is “Collyer’s Mansion”, lay people know it as hoarding.  The fire fighter called The Gatekeepers, a program serving the aging and disabled.  A Gatekeeper is someone who comes in contact with older adults through their everydaya activities- meter readers, bank tellers, letter carriers, etc.  They are the first line of defense against situations that are harmful, but preventable.  They receive training and that is how the elderly man in this story was assisted.  His home was a fire trap because of the huge hoard and a safe solution was found for him.

I wondered if other communities had these special people, so I Googled “Gatekeepers” in other parts of the country and found that they exist all over the USA.  It is a good thing when we care for our neighbors and community.   I am grateful for all you “Gatekeepers” out there.

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