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Grace Chapel forming special needs registry

News-Topic - 3/10/2020

Mar. 9--The Grace Chapel Volunteer Fire Department is establishing a registry for people with intellectual disabilities or other special needs to help the department better identify and provide aid to those people in an emergency.

Chief Bryan Edwards said that the idea for the registry came to him after a colleague's son, who has a rare form of autism and is nonverbal, injured himself jumping from a golf cart and had to be flown to the hospital.

"We were fixing to send him 100 miles down the road to a team of surgeons, and they couldn't talk to him," Edwards said.

A parent ended up going with the boy to the hospital.

Edwards said the incident made him wonder how local emergency personnel would have responded had they not known about the boy's condition.

To create the registry, the fire department has adopted a form from the N.C. Office of the State Fire Marshal, which collects identifying information about people with disabilities and their medical needs, according to a Facebook post.

The fire department is partnering with the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office to put the information into a secure database that can be used by all emergency services in Caldwell County.

Emergency Services Director Dino DiBernardi said that Grace Chapel is the first to establish a registry using the form from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, but what it is doing expands upon existing programs used by Emergency Services to identify people with special medical needs.

"It's a fantastic program, and we are hopeful it has a positive response," DiBernardi said. "It's fantastic what they're trying to accomplish and will absolutely assist us on medical calls as well as any other emergency call at the location(s) identified through the form."


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