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Tempe first in state to train all first responders in dementia awareness

Post Date:07/10/2018 9:04 AM

They are used to wearing heavy turnout gear to combat fires, but Tempe firefighters will be putting on a different type of gear that could prove as challenging:  headgear to muffle hearing, heavy mitts to limit motion, and eyewear to obstruction vision. All to simulate how a person with dementia can experience the world – often confused and overwhelmed.

Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department’s 192 personnel will attend a two-part session that includes the simulation and lessons on how to recognize and respond to the 10 signs of dementia.  The Human Services Department’s trauma response team CARE 7  will also train with them.  

The first scheduled training will begin at 9 a.m., Thursday, July 12 at the department’s training center, 1340 E. University Drive.

As skilled paramedics and emergency medical technicians, firefighters learn about the medical aspects of dementia but with this training they will see another perspective of the condition. “We’ll gain a deeper understanding of how a person experiences this disease,” said Chief Greg Ruiz, Tempe Fire Medical Rescue.  “During emergency medical calls it will make us more effective when attending to a patient living with memory loss.”

Other Tempe first responders, police and 9-1-1 dispatchers, are also trained in dementia awareness.  For Tempe Police it’s been part of their advance officer training since fall 2017.

“The trainings are a great resource for our first responders. It will allow them to better assess situations involving a person who may have dementia not only with empathy but with a better understanding of this disease,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “After this, our next goal to provide all city employees with dementia awareness training.” 

Training is organized by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and the Virtual Dementia Tour® simulation is sponsored by Home Watch Caregivers and Silverado.

Tempe is the state’s first and only dementia friendly city. Dementia Friendly Tempe is a city initiative that makes the community a livable place for people experiencing memory loss.

Tempe safety programs that benefit people living with memory loss

More than 1,500 people over the age of 65 in Tempe are estimated to have some form of memory loss. To help them and their caregivers cope with some of the safety issues associated with the condition, Dementia Friendly Tempe has more details on this list of free safety programs at

  • Anyone at risk of becoming missing or wandering away can sign up for the Police Department’s (Tempe Endangered And Missing) TEAM Reunite .
  • Providing additional household details via the Smart911 program can give 9-1-1 dispatchers and police critical information in an emergency. 
  • First responders can easily access a home and retrieve a vial containing critical information through the Human Services Department’s Secure Lockbox and Vial of Life Program
  • Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department partners with Tempe St. Luke's Hospital for thePatient Advocate Services to provide residents with alternatives to stressful and costly emergency services.

Dementia Friendly Tempe

Tempe, Arizona is the state’s first and only dementia friendly city and is part of Dementia Friendly America initiative.  At the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, the City of Tempe was designated as one of six upcoming “dementia friendly communities” that would help lead the national collaboration. In March 2016, the city launched Dementia Friendly Tempe in partnership with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to make Tempe a livable place for people with dementia and their caregivers through trainings, programs and resources available to the public.

For more information about Dementia Friendly Tempe, go to or send an email to



Media Contacts:

City of Tempe

Marie Chapple Camacho, 480-848-6899
Nikki Ripley, 480-350-8846

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute

Jen Fenter, 208-659-9517
Makayla Fischer, 602-747-3161