Firefighters Spend Day With Students With Special Needs To Build Trust

Oct 28, 2019, 9:10 PM | Updated: 11:22 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — Students with special needs at the Dan Peterson School got a visit from American Fork firefighters, who came to teach important safety skills and help the students feel more comfortable around first responders.

Captain Leif Nelson with the American Fork Fire Department came up with the idea to spend a day working with the students last year, knowing a fire drill, a medical call or a real emergency can be overwhelming for the students.

“Six simple commands: come here, crawl, stop, a few others or just some basic commands on how to listen to them, what to do when they hear that,” Nelson said.

It was an idea welcomed by the school’s principal.

“We practice fire drills here and our students are excellent at it, we can evacuate our building in around three minutes which is great considering most elementary schools are around four minutes,” said principal Kimberly Wong.

Not to mention many of the students here are in wheelchairs and need assistance to evacuate.

And for students with autism, it can be an overload on their senses.

“It’s important for people with disabilities to know about fire safety and we’re hoping, along with the fire department, that this goes statewide, that it doesn’t matter if you’re a special school or if your regular school that everyone knows how to be safe in case of a fire,” Wong added.

Speech pathologists said research has shown the students will be more comfortable with first responders if they interact with them in a situation that is not traumatizing.

“Reading them stories about why firefighters and emergency personnel exist, only there to help us in emergencies and when they come in, a lot of them have a good time they get big smiles on their face,” said Ben Stair, a speech pathologist at the school.

And Monday’s visit, which has become a school tradition, is a rewarding moment for firefighters, both professionally and personally.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year, not only to come out and help the students but also the way it benefits the fire department. The lessons we’re learning as a fire department, on how to handle children with rods in their spines, how to handle these complicated wheelchairs and vent systems that come along with them and the training and the opportunities we’re getting here have just been invaluable,” Nelson added.

“We love our American Fork firefighters, they come often to us whenever we have seizures and the students need to be transported. They are here within two minutes and so we have a great relationship with them,” Wong added.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Air Force Thunderbirds...
Merri Moeller, KSL TV

WATCH LIVE: Warriors Over The Wasatch 

After a four-year break, the Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show is back at Hill Air Force Base.
12 hours ago
FILE (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)...
Merri Moeller, KSL TV

Body found at Millcreek Walmart, police investigating

Unified Police Department said they were investigating Friday after a body was found at a Walmart.
12 hours ago
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hea...

‘Mitt Romney Republican’ is now a potent GOP primary attack

Mitt Romney isn't up for reelection this year. But Trump-aligned Republicans hostile toward the Utah senator have made his name a recurring theme in this year's primaries, using him as a foil and derisively branding their rivals “Mitt Romney Republicans."
12 hours ago
Bodycam footage from the Moab Police Department that shows them talking with Brian Laundrie is seen...
Jamiel Lynch and Chenelle Woody, CNN

Lawyer releases pages from Brian Laundrie’s notebook in which he admits to killing Gabby Petito

The attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie on Friday released eight pages from Laundrie's notebook that was found near his remains in Florida in October last year, according to a news release obtained by CNN affiliate WINK.
12 hours ago
Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

Two members of USU Aviation program killed in plane crash

Two people died Friday morning in a small airplane crash in Cache County.
2 days ago
Chris Jensen and Chris Wharton have been married for six years....
Mike Anderson

LGBTQ+ community concerned Supreme Court could revisit same-sex marriage

An opinion filed by Justice Clarence Thomas has some people concerned over whether the Supreme Court could reconsider other past rulings, including same-sex marriage and contraception.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Firefighters Spend Day With Students With Special Needs To Build Trust