Vulnerable Adult Program

Under RCW 74.34, firefighters and EMS professionals are mandatory reporters of abuse of vulnerable adults (adults above the age of 60, or developmentally disabled, or found incapacitated). Every year SFD firefighters report over 400 cases of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation to the Washington Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS). The SFD Vulnerable Adult Program, run in partnership with Seattle Aging and Disability Services, adds on additional services beyond the DSHS report. This program aims to identify vulnerable adults throughout Seattle and provide them with an array of services to improve their condition.

Vulnerable Adult Program Q&A:

Q: Who receives the Vulnerable Adult report?

A: In addition to Washington Adult Protective Services, each Vulnerable Adult report also goes to a care team that includes SFD personnel, Aging and Disability Services case managers and supervisors, and the Seattle Police Department. If the patient resides in a long-term care facility, the report is additionally sent to Washington Residential Care Services.

Q: What happens after a Vulnerable Adult is reported?

A: Members from this care team will attempt to contact the patient to learn more about their condition and understand what services may be necessary. Both Adult Protective Services and Aging and Disability Services will assign an investigator or case manager to the reported individual. Frequently offered services include assistance with the transition to supported care (in-home or residential), assistance with utilities, and assistance with insurance or healthcare management.

Q: What are signs that SFD firefighters look for to determine if someone is a Vulnerable Adult?

A: First responders are trained to look for a wide array of factors including signs of physical or sexual abuse, poorly managed health conditions, indications that a patient is being financially exploited, and indications of neglect. These may include hoarding conditions, lack of utilities, and lack of food or other essential supplies. See this website from DSHS for more information about Vulnerable Adults.  

Q: Can I report someone I think is a Vulnerable Adult?

A: Yes. If you think the person is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1. Otherwise, individuals may call (866) END-HARM (363-4276) or use this online reporting form. You may remain confidential and cannot be held legally liable for damages resulting from a good-faith report.