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Mass. city working with Alzheimer’s Association to develop training program for first responders

The Springfield City Council and association leaders hope the project highlights the unique challenges of calls involving people with dementia


By Jonah Snowden

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Springfield City Council will work with the area chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to improve how first responders respond to calls for people with dementia.

Meghan Lemay, regional manager of the group, said the project will enable responders to understand the unique challenges of the calls.


“These are people who are really interacting with people with dementia every day,” Lemay said.

Last week, the City Council’s Health and Human Services subcommittee discussed the project.

Lemay said that unless first responders have personal experience caring for someone with dementia, they aren’t fully prepared.

“We just want to help educate people around these basics, so that when they do encounter someone, they can just have a little bit more of that background knowledge,” Lemay said.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris invited Lemay to host a presentation for the department heads that report to her.

“Doing a presentation with that group might be helpful as far as spreading the word,” she said. “I’d like to be able to support this because it is important to our community.”

Caulton-Harris hopes to honor the late Cynthia Scott Mitchell, who founded the Springfield Dementia Friendly Coalition in 2018.

Govan said the next step is for her and Councilor Trayce Whitfield to host a 30-minute presentation on the training first responders would receive.

“I think going to them and presenting to them would be amazing,” Govan said.

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