Glasgow hosts first responder class to help interaction with special needs individuals

Published: Jul. 29, 2017 at 6:14 PM CDT
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There's no denying that our first responders save lives every day. But what kind of training is taking place to better understand and communicate with those who have special needs? On Saturday, Barren County tackled this critical issue.

"The first responders themselves have said, we need this," says Jini Payne, President of The Arc of Barren County.

First responders from police to firefighters came together to learn tactics on handling and identifying individuals with specials needs in emergency situations.

"When we encounter someone with autism, we've gotta get creative, we've gotta think differently, and how we help them and how we support them," says the class' presenter, Abbey Love.

Payne, who coordinated the class in Barren County, is passionate about educating first responders for a reason. With three of her own children with special needs, one of her daughters was involved in a situation where the police were called because someone did not know what was going on. Her daughter ended up being hospitalized for five days as a result.

" I feel like it could have been avoided had there had just been a little more information," explains Payne.

The emergency personnel who attended the training class have responded in a positive manner.

"This training helped us to achieve a goal that we can communicate better with people with autism," says the Director of Glasgow/Barren County Emergency Management., Tracy Shirley.

Some in attendance even say they wished they had this knowledge prior as it could have helped them in similar situations.

"If I had known what I know now back then, i would have been able to contribute better, but back then I didn't really know much," says Glasgow firefighter, Katan Parker.

After the class, community organizations who assist special individuals in a variety of ways set up informative booths while first responders interacted with special needs individuals.

"Knowledge is power, so the more we know about autism, the more we can support somebody, without making it a negative experience," says Love.

However, at the end of the day, it's most important to remember one thing.

"just treat these guys the way you would want your loved ones to be treated," says Payne.

If you're a county interested in hosting a first responder training class, email Abbey Love at