First responders attend autism awareness training

firefightersSandy Springs, Ga. — Personnels from the Sandy Springs Fire Rescue and the Sandy Springs Police Department underwent autism awareness training last week to help them communicate effectively with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) especially during times of emergencies.

According to the training’s organizer, Sandy Springs Fire Rescue Medical Services Officer Patrick Flaherty:

“Recognizing that those on the autism spectrum are a growing part of our interactions in public safety, it is important that we insure that our police and fire personnel have the necessary training to help them communicate with these members of the community.”

The first batch of the first-ever autism awareness training for first responders held in Sandy Springs completed the course Sept. 17.

The training helped first responders and public safety officers properly identify individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and how to deal with them accordingly. Participants were given continuing education credits for attending the class.

The two-hour lecture was designed by Spirit of Autism’s Debi Taylor, where the trainees where asked what they needed to do if…

– A person with autism creates a public disturbance?
Would you think it’s drugs? A mental illness? Non-compliance?
– How would you check for and treat injuries if your patient became agitated by any physical contact?
– How would you rescue a child that is hidden in the house, unaware that there is danger?
– What if you could not communicate with your victim?
– What if your normal protocol set off behaviors that you don’t understand?
– What if someone doesn’t “look disabled?”

More training classes will be held on Sept. 25 and Sept. 30.

Source: Kristal Dixon: Sandy Springs Patch: Sandy Springs First Responders Undergo Autism Awareness Training