Pistons help first responders to respond to autism calls

April is National Autism Awareness Month and there's a new initiative to help first responders know exactly what to do when they're working with those with special needs. 

The Detroit Pistons teamed up with the Detroit Public Safety Foundation and Mimi’s Mission to kick off a month-long training session to firefighters an increase awareness on how to interact and support people with autism during emergency calls.

"How can you help someone when you don’t understand how that person works? We’re here to show them how they work," Lisa Vilella from Mimi's Mission said.

The training involves families sharing stories so that first responders understand that they often must alter their approach when working with people who have autism.

"We did have an episode in our condo complex with police one day and he ran from them and police chased him. And he did not know what to say except I’m from Michigan," said Carrie Grube, whose son has autism.

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To help, the Pistons donated 911 ready bags to the firefighters.

"We have our weighted blanket which is a comforting tool," said Brownstown Police Deputy Chief Andrew Starzec. "Noise-canceling headphones will block out all the extracurricular noise. The engine noise, sirens, and things like that." 

The bag also includes a toy and food items to help as well.

For the Detroit Pistons, being part of this initiative is recognizing that it’s a team effort to help keep bet of the autism community safe.

"We want to be part of that they walk in they know what they need to do they’re going to go through the training and be ready and prepared to do it," said Pistons community ambassador Earl Cureton. 

911Ready prepares first responders for calls involving people with autism to improve emergency responses