Group to host free autism awareness training for NEPA first responders

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KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — A Luzerne County-based group specializing in the care of children and adults with autism wants to help educate first responders in NEPA.

Education is a core principle at Beyond Behavior Consulting in Kingston. It’s what prompted program coordinator Jessica Hartnett to organize a free autism awareness training session for EMS workers.

“We want to make sure that the people that are interacting with them know how to handle them, maybe just smaller prompting or less verbal cues, just to help them navigate through the emergency situation,” Hartnett said.

Hartnett says the training is localized to responders across northeastern Pennsylvania. They will have the opportunity to ask questions during the virtual session.

“It’ll entail the necessary steps or signs when you see someone or working with someone with autism, and some helpful tips to deal with certain behaviors,” Hartnett said.

Plymouth Borough EMA director Earl Cunningham plans to attend.

“I’ve been a member of Plymouth Station One for 46 years. Training’s very important to me because it’s good for yourself and to other individuals,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham says classes like this can help responders better serve residents in our community.

“People don’t understand autism and what it’s about. So, it’s a good thing and I’m grateful that they’re having the class,” Cunningham said.

“I think the more people that know about autism and the ways to recognize it will change their minds of when dealing with these situations,” Hartnett said.

The free online training will take place Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Zoom.

For more information on registering, visit

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