Local non-profit holds first responder training

A local non-profit organized a training for first responders to learn what to do when they encounter someone with a disability.

Posted: Mar 29, 2018 7:32 AM

Tennessee Valley Unite, a local non-profit organization, is working to make sure first responders know what to do when they encounter someone who has a disability.

The organization's president, Natalie Lambert, has a son who suffers from autism but is able to function better than most people who have it.

"He has exceeded our expectations, but I still have fears," Lambert said.

One of those fears is the day her son starts driving.

"If for some reason he is pulled over by a police officer, for whatever reason, I don't know if he would be able to handle that stress," Lambert said.

She said that's why the first event Tennessee Valley Unite put on was a training for first responders on how to handle encounters with people who have disabilities.

Lambert told WAAY 31 that she is counting on first responders to act as a calming influence in stressful situations.

"Who better than first responders who are well trained and have a need to serve the community? They will be the best possible facilitators in those situations," Lambert said.

Tennessee Valley Unite brought in the Birmingham-based Interaction Advisory Group for a five hour training focused on officer and citizen safety, fair treatment and safe practices, and open dialogue to raise empathy.

"Attending training that's being provided for us today just gives us more tools in dealing with people in those heightened states," Huntsville police officer Ronnie Dickey said.

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