AUBURN — Firefighters are hoping to create a database of people in the city with autism to help them tailor emergency responses during rescues.
"When we respond to an address we'll have additional information that will possibly help us relate to someone with autism," Auburn Fire Chief Frank Roma said. "There have been instances, negative interactions with autistics, where law enforcement or fire services were not aware of the special needs. That behavior can be interpreted differently."
Roma said residents with an autistic family member should contact the Auburn Fire Department's fire prevention office to register information with the city. The department's number is 784-5433.
A department checklist asks for the patient's name, description, contact information, diagnosis and medications that have been prescribed or to which the person is allergic.
The questionnaire also asks if the person has any specific fears, seizures, ability to speak, makes eye contact or is especially sensitive to sounds or touch.
That information will be maintained in the Lewiston-Auburn 911 dispatch center and linked to its database, where it can be called up when police or fire staff are called out.
"Having an awareness, so we can reach out to the family and to those individuals will give us a better opportunity to serve," Roma said.
Roma said the idea came from Fire Prevention Officer David O'Connell after he spoke to an elementary school classroom.
"He realized it was something we needed," he said. "It comes down to, information like this is the best way for us to care for this population."