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Firefighters trained on dealing with children with autism
PENSACOLA -- Pensacola firefighters are being trained on how to deal with children with Autism who can present unique challenges in life-threatening situations.
When firefighters are dealing with a person with Autism at a house fire, one of the biggest challenges is often getting that person out of the house.
Bill Cannata, Trainer: "The home is the safety and what they know and they may not leave."
Bill Cannata says children with Autism sometimes become aggressive when they're outside of their comfort zone.
And extreme action may be necessary.
Bill Cannata, Trainer: "You physically have to grab them, right. You can wrap them in the blankets. And we give 'em just different techniques on how to do that."
Cannata doesn't just have to rely on videos and other material for his training sessions.
The former firefighter is the father of a child with Autism.
He says it's often about being patient, calm and thinking outside the box.
Bill Cannata, Trainer: "A lot of people with Autism have a lot of sensory issues, so we teach firefighters how to control the sensory environment."
Cannata handed out cards with pictures that can help firefighters communicate visually with children who may have a tough time understanding words.
Sgt. Jimmy Donohoe, Pensacola Police: "Sometimes it takes 'em longer to process what you're saying to 'em."
Pensacola Police Sergeant Jimmy Donohoe is also the father of a child with Autism.
He and Cannata train First Responders throughout the country.
Donohoe was instrumental in setting up this week's training sessions.
Stefon Andrews, Pensacola Fire Department: "It...It makes us more aware."
Firefighter Stefon Andrews says the training will not only help him with his job, but also with his personal life.
Andrews has a ten year-old cousin with Autism.
Stefon Andrews, Pensacola Fire Department: "You know, just thinking that he's bad. Now I have a better understanding that he's not bad. I have to change my, I have to figure another route to get to him."
We've posted some tips on how to deal with children with Autism at weartv.com
Just go there and click on Newslinks or click here to go there now