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Crews work with puppy charity to raise autism awareness

Puppy Love for Kent Firefighters

20 December 2019

Crews with Nanook the assistance puppy

It was puppy love for Kent firefighters when they welcomed assistance dogs to the station to learn how to better support people with autism at incidents.

It was also an opportunity for the adorable four-legged visitors to get used to large vehicles and loud noises such as sirens, from an early age.

Once fully trained, the puppies from charity Supporting Paws will be assigned to families and will have the ability to calm the person with autism during potentially stressful or overwhelming situations.  

Charlotte, founder of the charity, has been working with firefighters to help them better communicate with, and understand the needs of, customers at incidents who may have development disabilities. 

Crew Manager Simon Davies of Thames-side station said: “Supporting Paws is a fantastic charity and one we are delighted to work alongside, especially as it allows us to develop our awareness of people with autism and other disabilities that may not be immediately obvious.   

Crews at Thames-side fire station with Supporting Paws puppies

“We deal with customers every day, so it is always helpful to learn certain mannerisms and techniques which we can use to make people with autism feel comfortable and at ease, especially in a distressing situation such as a fire or road crash.”     

Charlotte launched the charity in 2018 after her 14-year-old son Benedict, who has autism, benefited from having an assistance dog. Much to the teenager’s delight, he was able to fulfil his wish of having a tour of Thames-side fire station, accompanied by his assistance pup, Daisy and 16-week-old trainee, Nanook. 

Charlotte said: “By having a greater understanding of autism, firefighters will be more likely to recognise if a person is autistic. They will know ways of how to help and calm the person if they are involved in an incident, such as being conscious of touch, noise and flashing lights.”

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