HEALTH

Gold Cross equips first responders with autism-friendly kits

Oct 18, 2023, 11:18 AM

gold cross ambulance crew with autism kits...

Members of the Gold Cross have built autism-friendly kits to help patients. (KSL-TV)

(KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Paramedics and rescue crews with Gold Cross are getting some new tools to help them care for patients with autism.

Paramedic Jeff Wilson’s son has autism. As he learned to deal with the needs of his son, he realized ambulance and paramedic crews need some of those skills too. Wilson decided to approach Gold Cross Training Director, Jamon Smith. 

“We’re always looking for how can we improve the care for our EMTs and our paramedics and how we can better serve our population,” said Smith. “And so, when Jeff approached me about the autism training, [I] couldn’t be more excited about it, because it was definitely a need that was there for our patient population with autism and special needs.”

Autism-friendly kits

After developing a training curriculum, Wilson realized there were items that would help crews caring for kids with autism. So, they started assembling autism kits, which have already seen some success.

Kits include sensory poppers to provide distraction. Additionally, kits have noise-cancelling headphones, a sign language card, and a cue card designed to help crews communicate with non-verbal patients.

Wilson said the items help calm down the behavioral issues associated with autism. This is vital when kids are in stressful situations.

“My wife actually developed this language board because often or not, these kids speak sign language. So we developed a sign language board to help first responders learn sign language,” explained Wilson. 

“If they don’t speak sign language, we actually provided a nonverbal card so we can show them [the kids] pictures on how to handle what they need in the ambulance,”

According to Wilson,  500 kits are ready to be delivered and the state has given them funding for more. 

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Gold Cross equips first responders with autism-friendly kits