Alabama Autism Safety Initiative addresses the need for statewide safety measures:
First Responders Autism Safety Training focuses on hands-on exposure
Montgomery, Ala.—Time and safety are of the essence during an emergency. It’s imperative for first responders to quickly identify signs that may indicate a person has autism. With proper training, correct information and understanding of autism spectrum disorder, our servicemen and women who are on the scene first will be more equipped to rescue and ensure their safety.
“Our first responders need information, demonstrative interaction with our kids and the proper tools in order to be equipped to help our kids regulate during an overly stimulating situation, such as a fire emergency,” D.A.T.S.M.O.M. Founder Tametria Conner Dantzler said.
First Responders Autism Safety Training is a component of the Alabama Autism Safety Initiative which launched in Montgomery in February 2020 with a newly formed partnership with Montgomery Fire and Rescue Department.
“This is the department’s first time receiving and participating in an autism training. This is needed because we have a lot of children that we’re going to interact with and there is a high probability that we’re going to run into someone with autism,” Montgomery Assistant Fire Chief Christopher Gosha said.
First responders and D.A.T.S.M.O.M. families will learn from one another during this demonstrative training that allows paramedics and first responders to learn how to engage with children on the spectrum during an emergency.
“The goal is to expose the kids to overstimulating situations so they can learn coping skills and how to process stimuli during a fire emergency. Knowing what’s expected of them and what will happen before it happens help kids on the spectrum navigate,” Dantzler said.
With active fire drills involving real-life scenarios, this hands-on training gives first responders an opportunity to learn about and access the sensory needs of individuals on the spectrum, while they learn about fire safety. First responders dedicated individual time to allow the kids to see and touch fire equipment and hear fire alarm sounds that may trigger sensory overloads and then have time to process the stimuli.
“This will be a long-standing partnership with Montgomery Fire Department with continuous autism training,” Dantzler.
Dantzler requested sensory calming kits be placed in fire trucks. Gosha pledged the department would honor that request, as the department learns how to become equipped to serve people on the spectrum.
The first training will take place at the Midtown YMCA located on Carter Hill Road on Monday, February 17th, 2020 from 1p.m. to 3p.m. followed by a second session on Saturday, February 29th at Fire Station #9 on McGehee Road from 1p.m. to 3p.m.