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Whatcom EMS launches autism awareness program for first responders

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services has launched a new community outreach program to provide the public with free stickers to alert first responders when they may encounter a patient with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

According to a recent press release, “We want parents of children with ASD to pick up the stickers and place them somewhere first responders will notice, such as car windows or on the door of a child’s room.

According to the National Institutes of Health, ASD affects how people communicate, learn, behave and socially interact.

The challenge is identifying whether someone is on the spectrum in the first place. “We’ve only got a short period of time to gain somebody’s trust,” Whatcom County EMS Training Specialist Steven Cohen is quoted as saying in the press release.

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EMS, fire, and police personnel train to help ASD patients by first calming them and then communicating through eye contact, writing or demonstration.

The stickers are available to the public and public safety agencies by contacting Cohen via email to scohen@co.whatcom.wa.us.

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