Emergency communication boards aim to help during times of crisis

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- At Chileda, 45 children ages seven to 20 with cognitive challenges call the campus home.

"Just working with individuals that we have here at Chileda, we understand the importance of visuals. They think in pictures, they have just these different ideas going through their head when we're asking questions. They need that time to kind of slow things down, so we understand that need," said Chileda Director of Compliance Karrie Zielke.

Spending all that time with those individuals, it sparked an idea.

To create an emergency communication board.

For some, verbal communication does not come easy especially during times of crisis, which is where the board comes into play.

Six years ago, the organization created two emergency communication boards, one for police and one for fire and EMS.

"Sometimes when a person's not responding you may thing they're being defiant, they're not going to answer me. So then you know somebody may raise their voice, somebody may ask more questions and just try to get more information about that person, which causes more anxiety which could cause a person to physically act out," said Zielke.

The boards include dozens of images first responders or parents can point to, such as "What's your name?" or "Where do you live?".

Pain scales and full body images are also included to help communicate between those in need and those trying to help.

But this can be used by more than just children with cognitive challenges.

"These boards can be used with anybody, not just a person with autism or a person with a cognitive disability. It can be an elderly person who's just having a hard time expressing their wants. It could be a person who's hurt, and just cannot talk at that moment cause they're in shock. So it's a tool that can be used for a wide variety of individuals," said Zielke.

Zielke says the hope is that the boards can make their way into every police and fire department around the country.

To learn more about the emergency communication boards click here.

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