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Regina Fire Department announces autism alert initiative

Regina Fire and Protective Services has launched a new initiative that notifies firefighters that a resident with autism resides at a dispatched address during an emergency. File / Global News

A new initiative by Regina Fire and Protective Services (RFPS) aims to notify first responders of a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when attending emergency situations.

The new autism alert program, which launched in July, is designed to inform dispatched fire crews that a resident with ASD resides at the address prior to their arrival.

Requests for a program were brought forward to the city by the community.

Consultations included the City of Regina, Autism Resource Centre, parents from the community and a mental health therapist with oversight support from the autism program at child and youth services.

“This creates awareness within the emergency response environment regarding special considerations for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” said Layne Jackson, RFPS fire chief.

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Part of the program’s launch saw all RFPS operations and staff provided with training.

Jackson said the training helps increase awareness and understanding of ASD so they can provide proper care to those with ASD or they know to locate a person with ASD during an emergency call.

“What we’re trying to safeguard against is potential people hiding so crews know to look for someone that could be hiding or to avoid any triggers or stimulants that could cause someone to run away or hide,” Jackson noted.

“Those are big considerations when we respond to a fire or an emergency in general. We want everybody to safely escape the situation.”

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There weren’t any available statistics on the newly-formed program when speaking to Jackson, but he’s confident it will only be a matter of time before a situation presents itself where they can put their training to good use.

The program is only available to Regina citizens who have been diagnosed with ASD, but the program may expand in the future to include more community members living with a disability.

Residents can register a loved one or someone they know for the free program by emailing FAST@regina.ca.

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The city said registration is valid for one calendar year and must be renewed annually.

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