New EMT communication cards will help West Virginia first responders better serve patients who have trouble hearing or speaking

Local News

ST. ALBANS, WV (WOWK) – St. Albans firefighters and EMTs carry a lot of heavy equipment around to help keep people safe. Now they have a much lighter tool to work with as well.

“When we do a treatment ‘is your pain better or worse, the same?’ and I thought ‘that’s not good enough’ we have to have something that we can use to communicate more effectively,” says Lt. Chris Collins with the St. Albans Fire Department.

So Collins was brought on board to help develop the “EMT communication card” that will help those who may be deaf, hard of hearing, have and intellectual disability or maybe autism communicate with first responders.

“A lot of times they can’t verbalize their symptoms, but they can point to a picture easier than they can verbalize what’s going on with them we found using pictographs is a more effective way of communicating with those folks as well,” Collins adds.

The EMT cards are in addition to a project Disability Rights of West Virginia have been working on with the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing that includes a visor card.

“That was to help police officers with communicating with those who are deaf and hard of hearing during basic routine traffic stops//the commission had been contacted by EMTs saying hey we would like something similar to this,” Gina Desmond, senior advocate with Disability Rights of West Virginia, tells 13 News.

The EMT card was created with direct input from the men and women that would rely on it to serve the community.

“No calls the same no patients the same and we meet all different kinds of people with different kinds of challenges,” Collins tells 13 News.

The cards will eventually be laminated and stay in all emergency vehicles for the SAFD. The cards were even revised to include main Coronavirus symptoms. Information on how to be receive printed versions can be found here.

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