BUCKHANNON — Knowing if a person is on the autism spectrum and especially if they are nonverbal can be important information for emergency responders.
Following up on autism training with first responders held earlier this year, the Upshur County Communications Center and a local resident are compiling information that can be given to those responding to an emergency.
Doyle R. Cutright II, director of the Upshur County Communications Center, said the data being collected is on a voluntary basis.
“Anyone who has a child or an adult within the autism spectrum, if they would let us know and provide some information, that would be helpful,” he said. “For example, some people on the autism spectrum — approaching with lights and siren may agitate them or make them extremely nervous. We can put an alert based on their address in the system and we can appropriately notify someone that there may be someone in the home who is nonverbal or who requests a silent approach.”
Not having lights or siren was one of the tips given in the autism spectrum training held earlier this year.
Miranda Wamsley, a local resident, said autism issues have become something she is passionate about. She helped bring the training to Buckhannon earlier this year and is also working to collect information.
Information was sent home with students in the school system at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and will probably be sent home again this school year.
“It’s all voluntary,” she said. “They don’t have to fill them out but it would help 911. I think it’s a good idea to do this because there are people on the spectrum who are nonverbal. To have a number pop up and say this person is nonverbal, so they can automatically go over there – or know to turn their sirens off before they approach can be a useful tool. It’s important in any community.”
Cutright said two people have submitted the information so far.
“We know from the previous training earlier in the year that there are other people in the community on the autism spectrum so we are reaching out to those people,” he said. “They don’t have to do that, but we would like to provide this service to provide a better service for them.”
To sign up, contact the Comm Center at 304-472-9550 or Wamsley at 304-997-5835.