Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo is always thinking about public safety. After seeing a "Today Show" clip recently about rescue workers saving individuals with special needs, he sought out the expert featured on the show.
Consalvo reached out to Bill Cannata, the statewide coordinator for the Autism & Law Enforcement Coalition of the Family Autism Center, who's also a Westwood firefighter, and spoke on the "Today Show."
Today Consalvo proposed Boston create a voluntary special needs rescue registry at the Boston City Council's regularly weekly meeting.
Consalvo spoke about Cannata and the issue, "He goes around counties and trains fire departments on how to rescue people with autism... He has an autistic child, and you need to do specific things to get an autistic child out of a fire. Many times they don’t want to leave the house."
Consalvo recounted a story told to him, "An 18- or 19-year-old autistic person was told by his parents to never leave the house without clothes on. The house was fully engulfed. (Rescuers) found him without a shirt in his bedroom. He fought the rescue, and they finally got him out of the house and got him to safety. He broke free from safety and went back into house because he had been told to never leave during that situation without a shirt... They got him and he was safe. And got him a shirt."
After speaking with Charlie Popp, Boston Fire Metrofire CISM Team, Stress Management Team, Instructor–EMS Division, the BFD is organizing with Boston EMS, the training of all rescue workers, current and incoming.
Said Consalvo, "It’s great they are rescuing, but how do they know when responding to a fire there is an autistic person in that structure?"
Other cities and states have a unified central volunteer registry, not just for autistic indidviduals, said Consalvo. It would be a volunteer special needs registry that parents or guardians would volunteer info, which would be centrally located where Boston's 911 operation is located. Pertinent information could quickly be sent to rescuers during fires, and with important instructions. He said the registry would also apply to people with cerebral palsy, those who are wheelchair-bound, elderly residents who need help moving, and other individuals special needs.
"When going to a fire, the info would come up in the firefighter cabs with info on how to be fully prepared and deal with special circumstances to rescue a special needs someone. It could be an incident in a power outage in Back Bay, or a major national disaster," added Consalvo.
He added Boston already has the existing capabilities and framework to create the registry.
"In a voluntary capactity I thnk people would do this. No matter what your special need is. It would be fully voluntary. No one would have access to registry except for rescue personnel," said Consalvo.
The ordiance was referred to the Committee on Public Safety.