First responder event to make people with disabilities comfortable

Local News

ST. ALBANS, WV (WOWK) – The St. Albans Fire Department is trying to make people with disabilities more comfortable around first responders and law enforcement. The department is hosting an event Friday in hopes of achieving that goal.  

The sights and sounds of a fire truck and first responders can be alarming at times for people with disabilities.

“Sometimes they don’t understand why we’re there because they’re not familiar with us, and we’re outside of their routine. It can be overwhelming,” Chris Collins, Fire Marshall at St. Albans Fire Department.

That’s why Friday’s event is needed in the community to build relationships and avoid negative encounters during emergency situations.

“We’re having it for the intellectually and or developmentally disabled people specifically, so they can come interact with emergency responders, see people in uniform, look at our equipment, the sites and the sounds and get familiar with it,” Collins said.

According to staff, communication can be one the biggest challenges when responding to calls.

“Folks who are hard of hearing or may not have the cognitive, normal cognitive functions, as most people. You kind of have to raise the tone of your voice and speak in smaller sentences so they can understand,” Capt. Brian Sharp at the St. Albans Fire Department said.

The fire department is also incorporating news ways to communicate with people more effectively.

“A couple of years ago, we even got a board and a program started where we actually had pictures where they can point to try to communicate,” Sharp said.

The event will have food, games, along with fire, EMS, police and emergency management.  

“Hopefully it does bring some clarity for them and let them interact with us in a way that’s positive, so that they know we are here to help in the event something does happen,” Sharp said.

The event will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the St. Albans Fire Department.

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