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Helena officers use sensory training to help person having episode on highway

Helena is the first municipality in the country to have every employee sensory inclusive certified.
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT
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HELENA, Ala. (WBRC) - Helena Police officers said they were able to use recent sensory awareness training to help a person having what appeared to be a psychiatric episode in the middle of a highway.

In March of 2021, the Helena Police Department partnered with KultureCity, a Birmingham based nonprofit organization dedicated to sensory awareness and inclusion for those with invisible disabilities such as Autism and PTSD.

HPS leaders said their goal was for Helena to be the first law enforcement agency in Alabama to be certified “sensory inclusive” with each officer and civilian employee trained by KultureCity on sensory awareness. The training helps law enforcement more easily recognize and help calm and communicate with individuals who may be experiencing a sensory issue.

Within two weeks HPD became fully certified with each employee receiving the KultureCity training.

Helena Mayor Brian Puckett required all city employees to receive similar training, including fire department, city hall and parks department employees. Now Helena is the first municipality in the country to have every employee sensory inclusive certified.

Sensory bags are also placed in each HPD vehicle, as well as at locations throughout the city to help those with sensory issues. The sensory bags contain noise cancelling headphones, fidget items and non verbal communication cards commonly used by those with sensory issues to help responders communicate with an individual who may be nonverbal.

On June 12th, HPD responded to a person having what appeared to be a psychiatric episode in the middle of a highway. HPD officers utilized the KultureCity training and were able to safely deescalate a volatile situation and have the person taken to the hospital.

City leaders said, “Less than one month from having all city employees trained in sensory awareness, a life was effectively saved by officers using the training.”

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