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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 17, 2021

Sensory Kits Placed on Brick Township Ambulances for Incidents Involving Autistic People

On Sept. 16, representatives from Willow Springs Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center met with Brick Township Chief James Riccio and the Community Policing Unit to donate 10 sensory kits for first responders to be placed on all the ambulances of the Brick Township Police EMS.

The kits, prepared and sold by POAC Autism Services, contain objects that help subjects who are experiencing sensory overload, by giving them something to focus one of their senses on. This is known as “stimming.”

In addition to the stimming objects, each kit contains several “I have autism” and “My child has autism” cards that first responders can hand out to autistic persons and parents of autistic children.

In 2020, the department responded to at least 49 incidents involving a person with autism. The year-to-date numbers for 2021 show at least 33 incidents.

In an effort to serve the community, in particular this population, the Brick Township Police Department trains its officers in autism awareness and best practices in responding to those who may be experiencing an emergency associated with autism spectrum disorder. In February, all the officers in the department went through a half-day of such training with POAC Director Gary Weitzen, who was also present for the meeting between Willow Springs and the Brick police.

At the presentation, Pam Montemurno, the director of Hospital and Physician Relations, said, “Whatever we can do to serve the community, that’s what we’re looking to do. We’re really happy to help.”

In response, Riccio said, “We’re always glad to have partners to help us. Policing is a team effort and these kits are a great example of how everyone in a community can work together to benefit those with special needs.”

The kits were placed on the ambulances the next day, Sept. 17, with instructions on their use.