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Posted on: October 15, 2020

RPD: The Importance of Autism Awareness for the First Responder

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Every day, Radnor Township Police Department first responders encounter individuals in need of assistance. No two emergencies are the same and neither are the individuals involved. This is especially true when it comes to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

On Monday evening, Alex Mann, 20, of Malvern, offered an “Autism Awareness for First Responders” presentation to members of the Radnor Township Police Department Squad 4. Although all first responders are trained to react to a variety of emergency and crisis situations, the standard response is not always the appropriate response when interacting with individuals who have ASD. “Sirens, emergency lights and screaming can severely impact the sensory capacity of an autistic individual,” said Mann.

“Thanks to Mr. Mann, this program has allowed our officers to connect even closer with the community that they serve,” said Radnor Township Superintendent of Police Christopher B. Flanagan. “We will offer this program to the entire Radnor Township Police Department over the next year and we will continue to deliver superior service to all members of our community including those living with disabilities.”

Mann has previously spoken before some 80 police departments sharing his experiences living with autism and educating first responders about the importance of communicating correctly with those members of the community living with ASD. Mann stressed the importance of understanding how those diagnosed with ASD may have difficulty communicating during emergencies and he reminded officers to be compassionate while encountering anyone in crisis.

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” said Mann. Since the behaviors displayed by individuals with autism vary, the ASD disability is frequently referred to as a spectrum. Each diagnosis is different, and each person responds in a manner reflective of his/her unique placement on the spectrum.

For people with ASD, learning to interact with first responders is critical for their own safety as well as the safety of everyone involved during an emergency. Likewise, it is essential for first responders to understand ASD and to respond efficiently during an emergency involving community members with ASD. “I want to make sure that everyone with autism remains safe, while equally I hope our law enforcement officers stay safe too,” said Mann. 


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ABOUT RADNOR TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT: Police Superintendent Christopher Flanagan oversees the Department which is staffed by 44 sworn Officers as well as full and part-time civilian staff which consists of: 1 Supervisor of Parking and Auxiliary Services; 2 Administrative Assistants; 4 Part Time Meter Inspectors; and 9 Crossing Guards. Officers are assigned to either the Detective Bureau, Highway Patrol or Patrol Divisions. The Radnor Police Department also maintains a Motor Unit, 2 K9 Officers, a Bike Patrol Unit, 2 Officers trained in Motor Carrier Safety (MCSAP), 6 SWAT Officers who are members of the Central Delaware County SWAT Team, 7 Major Incident Response Team (MIRT) Officers, as well as Officers who participate in the Delaware County Drug Task Force. The cornerstone of the Radnor Police Department is community based and oriented policing. 

For more information, Press Only:

Molly Gallagher
Public Information Office
Radnor Township
610.688.5600 x 197

 

 

 

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