Home > Awareness > Autism Fire Rescue Program Featured on NBC’s ‘Today Show’

Autism Fire Rescue Program Featured on NBC’s ‘Today Show’

The training of first responders is absolutely critical to keeping individuals with autism safe. Unfortunately, there are far too many stories of dangerous situations that arise because of a lack of communication and understanding between safety professionals such as firefighters, and individuals with autism and their families. Yesterday, NBC’s Today featured Bill Cannata, the father of a young adult with autism who has developed a program that has educated over 15,000 first responders around the country in how to handle people with autism, and as a result, saved lives. Bill was also a member of the professional advisory committee for the Autism Speaks Autism Safety Project, where he provided tips and quick facts for firefighters interacting with individuals with autism. To further these efforts, in 2011, the Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grants program provided funding for the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC), designed to help foster a deeper understanding of autism spectrum disorders by training public safety and law enforcement personnel. Autism Speaks applauds these first responder training efforts.

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Longtime firefighter Bill Canatta is committed to caring for his 21-year-old son Ted, who is living with autism. Bill teaches people across the country how to rescue other people with the condition, and his training helped one first responder save a boy’s life. TODAY’s Amy Robach reports. You can find out more here.
  1. Rachell R.
    March 2, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    How can we get training materials or get training in our local communities? My son has autism, and my husband is a firefighter. His brother is a police officer and firefighter, and is an EMS trainer for our local department. His other brother is a dispatcher for highway patrol. This would be an awesome thing to share with our departments. How do we go about getting a hold of this training program?

    • Lance
      March 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Rachell, Where are you located? I am one of the ALEC instructors. You could always contact Bill Cannata, via his website. Just do a google search for him and you will find his contact info. This is a great training program for first responders, and has been very well received by the departments that I have been into.


  2. Ileana Morales
    March 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    This is a Great story!, Bill you are doing a wonderfull service to the Autism community. I have read about Autistic kids that have gone to jail or even killed; because they reacted in an aggressive way, when confronted with police. I am the mother of an 18 year old with High functioning Autism, and this is my biggest fear…How can I get trainning materials and how can I have my local police station get trained…This is a fear that is on my mind all the time.Plase help me.

  3. James A. Mulkey
    March 4, 2012 at 10:00 pm


    My name is James Mulkey and I am a trainer for the Autism Awareness for First Responders in Alabama. Bill came down here and taught a train the trainer course for us. You can reach me by email at bulldog@coosahs.net for more information or to put me in touch with responder agencies that would host the class. It is about 3 to 4 hours and we can work with Fire Rescue and law enforcement. I would love to get out to your community and teach. No matter the area, I am willing to travel.

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