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First responders in Illinois now have to be trained in dementia care

A new law mandates enhanced training for first responders in assisting Illinoisans suffering from Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

House Bill 4388, co-sponsored by state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker on May 13, 2022.

The law requires that EMS personnel complete at least one hour of training related to the diagnosis, treatment, and care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

“The Illinois Alzheimer’s Association estimates that over 200,000 Illinoisans suffer from Alzheimers and other forms of dementia—and that number is going to increase as the population ages,” said Stuart. “It is crucial for first responders to be able to recognize the symptoms of these conditions in order to safely and effectively care for those who may be suffering from them.”

The new law was effective immediately, and the training requirements will apply to license renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2023.

The required training will cover assessment and diagnosis, effective communication strategies, as well as management and care planning. Completing the training will count toward EMS personnel meeting the minimum credit hours required for license renewal. Supporters of the bill included the Illinois chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Illinois Chapter of the Home Care Association of America, AgeOptions, AARP of Illinois, and the Illinois Public Health Association.

“Providing every Illinoisan with equal access to high-quality medical care is a basic duty of the state government and to do so, we must ensure that the training emergency service professionals receive is comprehensive,” Stuart said. “People suffering from dementia have unique needs and achieving positive outcomes requires a focus on inclusiveness and a commitment to equity. I am pleased that this bill has been signed into law.”

For more information, call Stuart’s office at (618) 365-6650 or email repkatiestuart@gmail.com.

File photo: State Rep. Katie Stuart and Gov. JB Pritzker in a 2021 press conference.

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