UTAH — Jeff Wilson, a local paramedic with a personal connection to autism, has secured a grant with Utah EMS to equip Gold Cross ambulances throughout Utah with special sensory kits to help autistic patients.
Wilson, a paramedic from Payson, has been using his firsthand experience caring for his autistic son, John, who is 6, to improve emergency medical services for autistic patients across the state.
“I wrote a letter to my supervisors when I noticed that John was autistic, sharing a concern about how first responders are not trained or really understand autism,” Wilson said. “They agreed and allowed me to do training for Gold Cross, but I wanted to do more. I sent the state EMS office for children the training, and they asked if I would volunteer for them. This group would then provide me with what I would need. One was a grant to pay for travel and the kits.”
The “John Wilson Autism Kits,” named in honor of his son, are now available in many Gold Cross ambulances. The kits include items like popper bracelets and American sign language cards created by his wife, Heather, designed to cater to the sensory needs of those on the autism spectrum, making their ambulance rides less stressful and more comfortable.
“One of the local fire departments that I have given the kits to called me recently saying that they actually used the autism kit, including the sign language cards,” Wilson said. “The child was being combative and trying to communicate, and it turned out he just needed to use the bathroom. It made my wife and I happy that we had included those sign language cards.”
According to Wilson, a new round of grant money will be awarded early next year. He is committed to producing and distributing the kits to Gold Cross ambulances statewide.
Wilson is available for training and can be reached at email@example.com