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Gilbert, AZ: Fire and Rescue Dept now "Certified Autism Center"

May 2, 2023, Prescott Valley, AZ, Signals: Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department Becomes Autism Certified

The Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department (GFRD) has achieved the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, a certification awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have trained 80% or more of first responders and public-facing team members in how to better communicate with and respond to autistic and sensory-sensitive community members’ needs.

“IBCCES autism training for first responders directly supports the mission of the Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department and with the Town of Gilbert’s mission to ‘Anticipate, Create, and Help ALL People,’” shared Chief Rob Duggan of GFRD.

Chief Rob Duggan continues, “Autism directly impacts several of our members’ families, and hearing their stories shared across our department increased the sense of purpose for the training. Personalizing the impact of autism on our GFRD families also deepens the sense of belonging as members with other nonvisible disabilities feel safer discussing their unique challenges. By completing the training, our crews are better prepared to serve and respond to autistic people in our community.”

With recent autism diagnosis rates increasing to 1 in 36 children, according to the CDC, and the prevalence of sensory needs as well as adults diagnosed later in life, the need has never been greater to ensure first responders have a better understanding of how to approach and assist autistic individuals.

Following Mesa’s designation as an Autism Certified City (ACC) in 2019, other departments and communities in the East Valley have also pursued additional training and certification to meet the needs of their communities and share in this effort. GFRD joins Gilbert Police Department and Gilbert Parks and Recreation to help provide more inclusive and accessible services for the whole community.

This past month, GFRD and GPD partnered to host a Sensory Awareness Family Event (S.A.F.E.) at Trader Joe’s. The event allowed for a calmer shopping environment including limiting store music and announcements as well as additional employee assistance. GFRD additionally attended the Lauren’s Institute for Education’s Spring Fling event….

“We are truly excited to partner with Gilbert Fire & Rescue to help build a safe and inclusive community. This designation shows the department’s commitment to providing the best care for autistic individuals and ensuring they can respond appropriately in critical and emergency situations,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.

IBCCES also created, as a free online resource for families that lists certified locations and professionals. Each organization listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.


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