Cypress HomeCare Solutions is home to the Health Futures – Taking Stock in You Radio show, powered by Money Radio 1510AM and 105.3FM. Each week, the show provides listeners with expert advice on how to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
A recent episode of the radio show “Health Futures” on Friday, February 19, 2021 featured insightful interviews with two nonprofit leaders, Dan Weecks and Steve Wagner, who are making a real difference in caring for pets and seniors facing crisis situations in Arizona.
To listen to the full hour-long episode, click here.
Steve Wagner, President and Founder of Right Care Foundation, and Dan Weecks, Director of Operations for Companion Pets in Crisis (CPIC), joined host Bob Roth to discuss their organizations’ missions, challenges, and how the community can get involved to help. Their stories illustrate the vital role nonprofits play in filling gaps and advocating for underserved groups.
Right Care Foundation: Advocating for Seniors in Emergencies
Right Care Foundation’s mission is to advocate for best practices in emergency care for seniors before first responders arrive on the scene.
Wagner, who is also a firefighter and paramedic, explained that the genesis for starting the organization came from his 19 years of experience responding to emergency calls. He became passionate about improving the care given to seniors in the critical window before firefighters arrive.
“About 19 years now of field experience caused me to become very passionate about the work, or the care that I saw being delivered prior to my arrival and most importantly really the care that’s not being provided, before my arrival,” Wagner said.
Wagner recognized a gap in Arizona law impacting senior living facilities. While caregivers are legally required to have CPR and first aid training, there is no duty requiring them to use that training in an actual emergency.
Some facilities have “no touch” policies prohibiting staff from providing potentially life-saving assistance like CPR to residents in distress. Wagner argues this practice is unethical and dangerous.
“When care is withheld, because of a lack in the law for the purpose of avoiding liability, that creates withheld care which is undignified, injurious and cruel,” Wagner said.
Right Care Foundation is currently advocating for Senate Bill 1373 to close this loophole. The bill would create an affirmative duty for professional caregivers to utilize their training and provide appropriate emergency care when residents need it. It would also extend Good Samaritan-type liability protections so caregivers aren’t afraid to act in good faith in crisis situations.
Wagner believes the bill will literally save lives by ensuring seniors get appropriate care in those crucial minutes before paramedics arrive. He encourages Arizona residents to look up SB 1373 on the Arizona Legislature’s website and request to speak in favor of the bill.
Companion Pets in Crisis: Keeping Pets with Families After Disasters
Companion Pets in Crisis (CPIC) serves a different vulnerable population—pets impacted by disasters like house fires. Their mission is to keep pets with their families during crises when emergency responders are primarily focused on human life safety.
Director of Operations Dan Weecks explained that CPIC provides immediate emergency response for pets, through services like search and rescue, transport, temporary sheltering and arranging long-term placements. This allows pets to remain with their owners during extremely stressful disaster events.
In 2020 alone, CPIC helped over 250 pets through emergency services, keeping dozens of animals out of crowded county shelters. Their customized “Fido bags” on local fire trucks carry oxygen masks, first aid supplies and everything needed to stabilize pets on scene.
Weecks credited CPIC’s founder Lisa Martin for pioneering the organization in 2015. As a former first responder, she recognized the gap in crisis services focused specifically on animals.
“There’s nothing for pets though, so when people have pets in a fire, I mean Steve, how many times have you seen your guys attend to pets, probably not a lot right?” Weecks asked Wagner during the show.
“We do resuscitate pets when we can, but all too many times over my career I’ve seen tragedy and a loved one is a human and a loved one is also a pet. So I really like your program,” Wagner responded.
Weecks emphasized CPIC’s gratitude for these firefighters and EMS partners. “Without our fire crews, EMS, and police we really couldn’t do any of this,” he said.
At the same time, Weecks stressed that CPIC relies entirely on volunteers and donations to carry out its mission. Interested citizens can get involved by donating pet food and supplies, signing up to volunteer, or making a financial contribution. As a nimble nonprofit, every donation goes right back into CPIC’s emergency response services.
Serving Community Needs through Nonprofit Work
The stories of Right Care Foundation and Companion Pets in Crisis illustrate how nonprofits identify unmet needs and step in to fill gaps with targeted services. As Wagner explained:
“There’s a gap in the statute that this bill addresses…It’s a very obvious issue to first responders that there is a law in Arizona that requires CPR and first aid training but it’s not required to be used.”
Likewise, CPIC is meeting the needs of pets that inevitably fall through the cracks when official emergency responders are overwhelmed addressing human life safety.
Roth summed it up well when he said:
“Both Right Care Foundation and Companion Pets in Crisis are addressing important needs in the community and relying on public support. Their work shows how nonprofits can step in to fill gaps and advocate for populations in crisis.”
These nonprofit leaders are making a real difference for seniors, pets, and public health/safety overall in Arizona. However, they emphasized that community support through volunteering and donations is critical to achieving their missions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Right Care Foundation’s mission?
Right Care Foundation’s mission is to advocate for best practices in emergency care for seniors before first responders arrive on the scene. They aim to improve emergency medical care provided to seniors in the critical window before paramedics arrive.
What gap in Arizona law is Right Care trying to address?
While professional caregivers are legally required to have CPR/first aid training, there is no law explicitly requiring them to use that training to provide care in actual emergencies. Right Care Foundation supports Senate Bill 1373 to mandate a “duty to care” and require caregivers utilize their skills when residents need life-saving assistance.
How can citizens support Senate Bill 1373?
Concerned Arizona residents can look up SB 1373 on the state legislature’s website and submit a “request to speak” in favor of the bill. This signals support to lawmakers considering the legislation.
What is Companion Pets in Crisis’ mission?
Companion Pets in Crisis aims to keep pets with their families in the aftermath of disasters like house fires. They provide emergency response and services focused specifically on the animal victims, who are often overlooked when first responders focus on human health and safety.
What services does Companion Pets in Crisis provide?
CPIC has volunteers who provide pet search and rescue, emergency transport, temporary sheltering/boarding, arranging long-term placements, end-of-life services like cremation, and more. This allows pets to remain with their owners during a crisis rather than being surrendered to a shelter.
How can people get involved with Companion Pets in Crisis?
Citizens can volunteer their time, donate pet food and supplies, or make a financial contribution to support CPIC’s emergency response services. They rely entirely on community support to carry out their mission.
Why are nonprofits like these important for filling community needs?
Nonprofits identify gaps in services, needs of underserved groups, and other societal issues that are not being adequately addressed. They then create a mission and services targeted to meeting those unmet needs. These two organizations illustrate how nonprofits fill critical gaps related to senior care and animal welfare in Arizona.