Just another step forward



In an effort to provide awareness, acceptance, and inclusion to all, no matter the need, diagnosis, or age, multiple local community organizations met on Wednesday, Sept. 4, to discuss ways to increase training for first responders when interacting with individuals with special needs. The group was formed after each organization expressed a common interest in serving the special needs community.

The goal of the meeting, which was held at the Blount County 911 Center, was to establish a partnership between local community organizations and KultureCity and develop specialized training for emergency workers when responding and caring for special need individuals. The meeting included officers and/or representatives from the Oneonta and Pell City Fire Departments,

Snead and Pell City Police Departments, Blount County 911, Alabama Pediatric Therapy Services, and KultureCity.

KultureCity, a non-profit organization based in Birmingham, partners with numerous businesses and organizations to make locations welcoming and inclusive to individuals with sensory needs. When an organization partners with KultureCity, they are provided with employee training to help staff identify those with sensory needs, and how to interact and respond to situations. KultureCity plans to work with local emergency workers to develop a training program specialized for first responders.

Continuing with the effort of another step forward, the group plans to first develop the training, and then pilot the program within the respective local emergency organizations. As a long term vision, the group hopes the training will be implemented across all emergency organizations statewide.

Oneonta Fire Chief Kenneth Booth said of the meeting, “The Oneonta Fire and Rescue Service is always excited to partner with new organizations that share our vision to constantly improve service delivery for our community through a strong commitment to training and education. Partnering with Alabama Pediatric Therapy Services to create a pilot program that will greatly improve first responder’s ability to effectively respond to incidents involving children with special needs is a great opportunity for our department.”