Midway Fire adds sensory kits to vehicles to calm individuals with autism

Georgetown County News

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WBTW) — Midway Fire Rescue is adding sensory kits to their emergency vehicles Tuesday to create a more calming experience for individuals with autism.

Midway Fire Rescue said they often respond to calls involving children or adults with autism.
The kits contain noise reduction headphones and stress-reduction toys among other stress relief items used to help these individuals stay calm during an emergency.

Lights and sirens signal help is on the way. An ambulance ride or arrival can be a scary experience for anyone, especially children with autism.

“The call is very traumatic anyway and then all of the commotions, the lights, all the strange people and stuff like that,” Doug Eggiman, Midway Fire Rescue chief said.

The bright lights, loud noises, and strangers arriving in gear may look like an uncomfortable situation from the perspective of a child or adult with autism.

“The spectrum can be very very light or very heavy but most of the kids I have encountered something happened to their parents medical wise and they don’t have that comfort,” Justin Lenker, President of Midway Professional Firefighter Association said.

Inside the kits are comforting items to help draw attention away from the commotion including weighted stuffed animals known to reduce stress, fidget toys, sunglasses to block bright lights, headphones to reduce loud emergency sirens.

“It makes it easier for us to treat them if we can bring them into a better emotional state,” Eggiman said.

It may look like a bag with a bunch of toys, but looking at the big picture the toys serve in these emergency situations as so much more.

Whenever a kit is used on a call, the child or adult with autism will keep the bag. Midway Fire Rescue says they will be continuing to raise money to service more bags in the future.

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