Firefighters and EMTs are trained to handle emergencies. When the world changes around them, they modify training to meet these changes. Now there is a new type of training that needs to be addressed—training for an autism emergency. Autism is one of the fastest growing disabilities in the world and it is not going away. It affects over 400,000 individuals from ages 3 to 22 in the United States, an increase of over 2039% since 1992. 1 out of every 100 children is born with some level of autism and this figure continues to grow every year. If we are not aware of this disorder and the vast spectrum of symptoms it encompasses, we will not be ready to handle the emergency effectively. A simple uneducated or untrained mistake can result in the loss of a fellow firefighter or even the individual. We can't afford mistakes like this, especially when the training is now available. Individuals with autism are so unique and their actions so unpredictable that it's not only for their safety, but the firefighter and EMTs as well. If you walked into a fire and went to grab the individual, and he or she acted out not in fear of you, but in fear of being touched, you can get hurt as a result. There is no room for mistakes in the field. Everyone's safety is important. Learning how to effectively interact with an individual with autism is the one training we can't afford to overlook. Knowing what to do and how to approach individuals with autism is the first step in effectively handling any emergency situation.
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