UofL provides autism training to police officers, firefighters, paramedics


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville’s Kentucky Autism Training Center is partnering with Louisville first responders to teach the special needs of those on the autism spectrum during an emergency.

    The training is for all police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services staff and MetroSafe 911 employees. Over 600 first responders have participated so far in the training, with all firefighters scheduled to be trained by the end of 2017 and police officers by 2018.

    “This is awesome news for the autism community and I’d like to offer heartfelt kudos to these agencies for making this a priority. It is crucial that first responders understand how to most effectively communicate with those on the autism spectrum for the safety and well-being of everyone involved in an urgent situation,” said Heidi Cooley-Cook, family field training coordinator for the center, who is conducting the training with Louisville Fire Capt. Chad Greathouse. “We are pleased to extend this extra helping hand to ensure that all citizens receive necessary care and attention in emergencies.”

    The training complements the Yellow Dot Program, launched in 2015 by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. The program uses a yellow dot decal placed on a vehicle that alerts first responders that an automobile accident victim may be on the autism spectrum or require special medical attention.

    “We appreciate the opportunity for additional training on how we may better serve those people in our community who are on the autism spectrum,” said Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad. “This is the kind of community cooperation that helps us to work more effectively and will benefit officers as they interact with the public.”

    For more information, contact Cooley-Cook, 502-852-6401 or heidi.cooleycook@louisville.edu.


    Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.