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Belmont Co, OH: Paramedic: 'There’s a lot of kids with special needs, especially autism'

Sept 9, 2023, Martins Ferry, OH, Times-Leader: Autism kits purchased for all Belmont County squads

Every ambulance in Belmont County is now equipped with an autism kit to assist with patients with special needs.

The Belmont County Fire and Squad Officers Association was able to raise around $3,000 from community donations to purchase 100 of the specialized kits. The kits are designed to help medical personnel treat children with autism and other special needs.

Cierra Carleton, a paramedic for OR&W and Bethesda fire departments, spearheaded the project. She said she saw a need in the county and wanted to do her part to help fill that need.

“When I first started my career, I noticed this isn’t really something that people put too much effort into doing. There’s a lot of kids with special needs, especially autism, that we don’t really have the tools to communicate with, and this will help with that,” she said.

All 21 fire departments in the county will be equipped with autism kits, as well as two kits for each ambulance in the county.

Carleton said the kits include noise canceling headphones for those with sound sensitivity, a dry erase board and marker for nonverbal children who are able to write, a pediatric body chart and various sensory toys and items….

Allan Ketzell, president of the Belmont County Fire and Squad Association and fire chief of the Brookside Fire Department, said the kits will allow for better communication between medical personnel and children with autism. He said supply chain delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the completion of the bags until recently….

“We held off until we were able to get everything in at one time, and we just did that in the last \ needed.


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