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Surrey, British Columbia advances autism accessibility in fire service


August 15, 2019
By FFIC Staff

August 15, 2019 Surrey, B.C. Councillor Allison Patton and staff from Museum of Surrey and Surrey Fire Service were joined Tuesday by members of the community to announce two new sensory friendly initiatives. In partnership with the Canucks Autism Network, Museum of Surrey will run sensory friendly hours from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on the first Sunday of every month, beginning in September. Further advancing the City’s leadership in accessibility, Surrey Fire Service has launched a sensory kit program to aid anyone with sensory processing needs during first responder or fire calls.

“The City of Surrey is committed to providing accessible and inclusive programs and services for all members of our community,” said Councillor Allison Patton in a news release. “Today’s announcement ensures everyone can experience the magic of our museum.  We thank the Canucks Autism Network and the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society for their contributions in making our sensory friendly spaces possible.”

The Canucks Autism Network notes that individuals with autism are seven times more likely to interact with First Responders than other members of the general public.  Recognizing that there are over 16,000 children and youth in B.C. diagnosed with autism, Surrey Fire Service’s trained staff will now carry sensory kits on fire trucks to better serve the community.  The kits include noise cancelling headphones, calming accessories and symbol cards, which will help first responders locate pain points on non-speaking children or adults, or for anyone who may be overwhelmed at any incident.

“As first responders, communication and trust with our patients is key to keeping them safe,” said Ben Wilson, Prevention Captain, Surrey Fire Service in a news release. “When an accident or fire occurs, it can be overwhelming for everyone involved, particularly for those with autism or sensory processing disorders.  We are very proud to launch this innovative program, which will ensure better service to all members of our community.”

For more information on Surrey Fire Services, visit: surrey.ca/fireservice