Howard County first responders to be trained to better serve those with autism

Training is the second move to better serve

COLUMBIA, Md. - First responders in Howard County will get training designed to better equip them in an emergency situation as they work to meet the needs of those with autism.

In a press release issued Monday morning, it was announced the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services would be partnering with the Howard County Autism Society on a progressive training program to teach fire personnel and paramedics how to respond to emergencies involving individuals with autism.

The comprehensive training will be included in the department's virtual academy and will be a requirement for all firefighters and paramedics. Organizers say it will include facts about autism, the characteristics of autism and tips for helping people with autism in emergency situations.

"As an organization, we are always striving to deliver the very best service to the entire community, including those with functional needs," said fire/EMS chief William Goddard. "This new innovative training will be a great benefit to our personnel We are excited about this partnership."

Part of the training will include an forum for feedback and questions in which parents of those with autism will be invited.

"Courses like this are critical to our development," said captain Tony Concha. "As first responders, we want to be able to recognize and anticipate the unique aspects of interacting with members of our community. Joint training such as this, increases our awareness and comfort level when providing care during emergency responses."

The training expands the efforts of the HCAS to better serve those with autism. Last spring, the HCAS launched a program with the 911 call center that give residents the option of placing a flag on their address, alerting responders of someone with autism at the home and may be unaware of danger, oversensitive or unresponsive.

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