Firefighters Are Understanding Autism

Published 04/17 2012 06:19PM

Updated 04/17 2012 06:35PM

Firefighters in Illinois are getting better prepared to help people with disabilities.
"People were telling us they knew people with autism in their community and they didn't know how to respond until they took this training," says Brian Brauer, Associate Director for the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

That training is especially helping responders help people with autism.
A disorder that one in every 88 children has.
This has been in the works for almost two years.
However,  the Illinois Fire Service Institute, in Champaign has gotten it off the ground. 
Just in time, because the number of people with Autism is growing.
Kentrell Graham is a senior at Centennial High School.
Like many kids his age, he plans on going to college in the fall, and just by looking, you wouldn't know he's autistic.

"A lot of times people just don't get where I am coming from," says Brauer.
In an emergency, communication for someone like Kentrell is important.
That's why his teacher, Claire Vail has taught him what to do if something goes wrong.
"We encourage our kids to carry a disclosure card that says, "My name is Bobby, I have autism please call my mom," says Claire Vail.
"The person with autism can't stop having autism, it's up to the authorities," says Vail.

A  program is teaching all emergency responders in the state how to do that. An online course gives details about autism and other disabilities along with strategies on what to do if someone with autism is in danger.

"I've been a firefighter for almost 25 years and wish i had training like this sooner. Because when the doors go up you never know what emergency you are going to encounter," says Brian Brauer.
The course is new, and isn't mandatory, but Brauer says many have already taken it and want to learn more.
Interest that means a lot to Kentrell Graham.
"We can use some heroes, it doesn't have to be a superhero just a hero that comes out for protection," says Graham.

The Illinois Fire Service Institute partnered with legislators and the State Fire Marshall to get this done.
So far there have been no problems, and they hope all 40 thousand firefighters across the state participate.
the program is geared toward emergency responders, however who is interested can take the course.

Here is the website.

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