The Callaway County Ambulance District has begun passing out emergency stickers in order to alert first responders that an individual might have difficulty communicating.
There are many people who might have trouble understanding or communicating with law enforcement, fire fighters or emergency medical personnel — they may be deaf or non-verbal due to autism.
The stickers — meant to be placed in highly visible spots at the front of homes or vehicles — explain that someone inside might have a condition making it difficult for them to respond to verbal commands.
Currently, the ambulance district has stickers for members of the deaf community, individuals with autism, Alzheimer's or dementia, and diabetics, who might have trouble speaking if experiencing hypoglycemia.
"This is a new project," staff paramedic Margie Kriegesmann said. "We're looking for ways we can be more proactive in the community."
Kriegesmann said she heard of other ambulance districts using similar methods. It struck close to home and Kriegesmann jumped on the idea — she understands how important it can be for first responders to know why someone might not be responding in the typical way.
"I have a son with autism who sometimes has communication issues," Kriegesmann said. "He's a big kid and I don't want anyone to see him as a threat if he's non-verbal."
She understands other families might have similar concerns. With the Missouri School for the Deaf in town, Fulton also has a deaf community.
The hope is if a first responder sees the sticker while out on a call, they will be better prepared.
The stickers aren't a perfect solution — to be effective they have to be seen. Kriegesmann recommends placing the stickers in clearly visible locations — for example, at eye level at the front door of the house.
Free stickers can be picked up from ambulance crews, at the ambulance district station at 2614 Fairway Dr. in Fulton or by contacting [email protected]
When the ambulance district posted about the stickers on Facebook, several members of the community reacted positively and suggested more conditions that could go on a sticker.
"We're very excited to help the community be proactive," Kriegesmann said.