Running a patient who has special needs is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Ignoring the problem creates anxiety for the responder, tension for the patient, and frustration for others on scene including family members and care givers. Ultimately, this could result in poor patient care or undesirable citizen service. A responder who is in this situation may have the best intentions but may not be aware that his or her actions are having an adverse impact on the community.
As emergency responders, one of the things that cause us to feel uncomfortable is dealing with the unknown. This is the reason that we train. The “routine” call becomes more familiar when we discuss the problem before the incident. We educate ourselves and practice, and then we review our performance to see how we can do better the next time.
The best way to prepare for this type of emergency is the same way you would prepare for any emergency: to educate yourself and others you respond with, and to train for the potential. It is often beneficial to include other people such as social workers, teachers, doctors and nurses, or therapists in your training sessions. You may also be able to find parent or caregivers who would be willing to talk or participate in your training sessions. Not only do these people work on a daily basis with individuals with special needs, but it will develop a network of resources that you can call upon in the future.
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