On Tuesday night, Leominster firefighter and the father of an autistic child, Lance Mason spoke to about 60 parents and caregivers of autistic children as well as first responders in the auditorium of the Auburn High School.
Mason spoke about the unique challenges that first responders including Police Officers, Fire Fighters and Emergency Medical Technicians may face when dealing with an autistic child. He also spoke to the parents about some of the challenges that first responders face.
Mason also emphasized the need to practice home fire safety. ”We recommend it and teach it, but people just don’t do it” he says. ”Families need to have a plan, to know what to do in an emergency. With an autistic child, that need is multiplied.” Mason fielded question from the audience and many met with him one on one to discuss specific situations. Mason has been an Autism & Law Enforcement Coalition (ALEC) instructor for 9 years. During that time he has held training for most Mass. fire departments and many parent groups, as well.
Assistant Chief Glenn Johnson from the Bureau of Community Risk Reduction, Public Education Division, said that Mr. Mason has done numerous training sessions within the Auburn Fire Rescue Department. “It is definitely a beneficial training” Johnson said. “We have received letters from grateful parents of autistic children who were amazed at how we handled their children during emergency situations. They told us that it was clear that we have an understanding of autistic children and their needs. That was possible through this type of training.”