March 9, 2017 | | Student Success
Chattanooga State paramedic program graduate, Skyler Phillips, a Chattanooga Fire Department Captain and paramedic, has started a program with LifeLine, Inc., a non-profit ministry organization serving families with special needs children. Skyler and Executive Director of LifeLine, Lisa Mattheiss came up with the idea of a training program for first responders to be informed on general disabilities covering a multitude of diagnoses, scenarios, and circumstances. The program is called the Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP), which premiered in January 2017.
Skyler, SNAP Coordinator, said his inspiration for the program came from his six-year-old son, Noah, who was diagnosed with autism three years ago. After the fire department and Chattanooga community helped him raise $15,000 for his son’s service dog, he was looking for a way to give back.
The program was developed with input from first responders, current and former police officers, military and civilian emergency medical personnel, and parents. SNAP training has been offered at Erlanger, Chattanooga State, and the Southeast EMS Directors Association. Skyler has been training fire department personnel for the last two months. Training is offered in a two-hour summary and a longer four-hour course. They hope to reach all first responders in the immediate area over the next two or three years. They also will be starting a parent training to teach parents and caregivers how to best prepare for an emergency situation involving first responders and special needs children. “We will be presenting it to the TN fire commission as well as the State fire marshals office next month in hopes to make the program state wide,” shares Phillips, “that’s pretty exciting!”
Skyler hopes this training will bridge the gap between first responders and special needs individuals to demystify the misconceptions of assisting individuals with special needs in emergency situations.