First responders, politicians and loved ones of individuals with autism visited Redeemer Church in Utica on Saturday to learn more about autism. The event was hosted by Better Together at Redeemer.

“It’s amazing to see the elected officials and the first responders come out and listen to our concerns, and want to be trained properly by Blue Bridge. It’s an awesome day,” said Kathy Caruso, the lead facilitator of Better Together at Redeemer.

What You Need To Know

  • Better Together at Redeemer hosted an autism awareness training event for community members, including first responders and elected officials

  • Attendees heard personal stories from loved ones of individuals with autism before the training

  • Police Captain Gerald Turning provided the Blue Bridge Autism Training for First Responders

Self-proclaimed special needs dad and Police Captain Jerry Turning shared his advice through Blue Bridge Autism Training for First Responders.

Caruso says this training is important because people with autism can have different reactions to situations which can be misunderstood by first responders.

She said this happened with her son during a fire drill years ago.

Caruso respects first responders and hopes for more understanding.

“We can’t expect them to know every walk of life, every different need in the community,” Caruso said. “So it’s up to us as parents to say we have a population that needs some special attention and we’d like to introduce you to our kids.”

Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said he’s thankful that Caruso is stepping up to better inform law enforcement so that law enforcement can better serve their community.

“We need to make sure our people, men and women who work for us, who serve and protect their communities, have every tool that they can available to them,” Maciol said.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office offers a program that allows family members of individuals with autism to confidentially share that information with the sheriff’s office.

That way, sheriff’s office members can be informed about an impacted individual should there be an emergency.

Those interested in Better Together at Redeemer can find the group on Facebook.

The group meets monthly.