Bucks County Firefighter Assists First Responders in Interacting with People with Autism

Image via CBS News Philadelphia.
The firefighter is working with other officials to make interactions better for the community.

A firefighter in Bucks County his helping his coworkers to communicate with local residents who have special needs. Madeleine Wright wrote about the local firefighter for CBS Philadelphia.

Brian Focht, a Bucks County firefighter, is providing first responders with the knowledge to help them better interact with people with autism. The lieutenant with the Horsham Fire Company first learned that his son Daniel had Asperger syndrome when the boy was three years old.

“Things that I learned throughout his childhood that were strategies that helped us work with him, I implemented on emergency scenes,” said Focht.

He built a training program through which he teaches firefighters, paramedics, and police how to recognize autism and ways where they can overcome the communication barrier. He also teaches them strategies on how to calm someone down during an emergency.

Most recently, he provided training at the Warrington Fire Company.

First responders could be presented with somebody who is refusing to talk or avoiding eye contact or “flapping their hands or flapping their feet or staying on their toes,” said Focht. “That’s called stemming, where they’re trying to calm themselves internally, so the worst thing they could do is try to stop that behavior.”

Focht holds training 30 to 40 times a year, sometimes with his now adult son.

Read more about Brian Focht at CBS Philadelphia.


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