Weinberg Bill Would Create Autism Training Programs For First Responders

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg, which would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish an autism awareness training course and curriculum for first responders like emergency medical technicians (EMTs), firefighters and police officers, was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“This legislation would work to ensure that first responders are trained to deal with the special needs of those living with autism and related disorders,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Health panel. “Because characteristics of autism are not always immediately recognizable, we must make sure that those living with the disease are able to receive the medical care they need, as quickly as possible in an emergency situation.”

Senator Weinberg’s bill, S-1217, would call for the creation of an autism, intellectual and developmental disability training course and curriculum for first responders.

Under the bill, the Commissioners of Health and Senior Services and Human Services would work in conjunction with the New Jersey Fire and Emergency Medical Services Institute and the New Jersey State First Aid Council to develop the course for police officers and EMTs. The Department of Community Affairs’ Division on Fire Safety and the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Institute would be responsible for developing the program for firefighters.

New EMTs, volunteer and paid firefighters and local police officer recruits would be required to complete the training as a condition of certification. EMTs, firefighters and police officers who are currently licensed in New Jersey would be required to complete the training as a continuing education course within three years of the bill’s enactment date.

This bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

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