ALLEN PARK, Mich. (FOX 2) - A Metro Detroit program is designed to help first responders prepare for calls involving people with autism before they respond.
"Who’s there to protect them, who’s there to help them, who’s doing anything for them?" said Lisa Vilella.
Vilella founded Mimi's Mission, which is a support system for people with autism and their families. The nonprofit now has an offshoot designed to help them even more.
911Ready is website where information about people with autism. If first responders are called to a home where a person with autism lives, they are provided with that information, so they are prepared before they arrive.
Brownstown Township and Allen Park police have already opted in to the program.
When police don't know a person's situation, such is that they are non-verbal or have autism, the outcomes can be dangerous for the person.
"A lot of these families would never call the police because they know the outcome; they are very afraid for the outcome," she said. "No fault on the first responder side at all -- how do you walk into a situation and know the situation, if you don’t know the situation?"
For example, one of Vilella's clients, Danny, is 19, stands 6 feet, 4 inches, and weighs 450 pounds. However, he is cognitively 2. While his stature may be intimidating, 911Ready would let officers know he is not a threat.
"You can see how this will help the autistic community, but it will help law enforcement, too," said Lt. Andy Starzec, with Brownstown Township Police. "We don't need to have their whole life story, but just a quick ‘Danny, he’s big, he’s intimidating he’s non-verbal’ -- that’s enough information for our first responders to know, so that they know what they’re getting into. It's huge."
First responders also have bags that they can give to people with autism to help them remain calm during an emergency.
The 911Ready website costs $40 a year. Sign up here.