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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ben's Blue Bags

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between first responders and autistic people

From Prince William Living:
The Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department (OWL VFD) has become the first fire department that also provides emergency medical services (EMS) on the east coast, and in the state of Virginia, to carry Ben’s Blue Bags. The bags are kits with assorted sensory items that can be used while treating patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or family members of people with autism.

The idea to begin carrying these unique resources has been discussed by members in the past few years. Recently, OWL VFD EMT Brooke Smith and Prince William County Department Fire and Rescue System (PWC FRS) Firefighter/EMT, Anthony Saville, who is assigned to station 2, mentioned the idea to OWL VFD’s leadership. After hearing the presentation, OWL VFD Life Member and former Rescue Chief, Ed Craig shared information about Ben’s Blue Bags, a nonprofit organization based in Indiana. Craig had seen the product a few years ago in a Facebook post.

Ben’s Blue Bags was created by Firefighter/Paramedic Lt. Matt Kodicek from the City of Crown Point Fire Rescue in Crown Point, IN. He was inspired to start the nonprofit in honor of his son, Ben, who is autistic....

The sensory bags contain an array of different items to use when patients are having a stressful sensory issue. Marbles in mesh, squeeze balls, a flipper chain, and a Rubik’s Cube is among the sensory tools in the kits.

The items take into consideration the various forms of ASD; nonverbal, hyposensitivity, and hypersensitivity. The noise reduction earmuffs in the kits can be used for autistic people who are sensitive to sound, while the dry erase markers and a whiteboard with pictures can be used to help first responders communicate with non-verbal individuals. The bags are not just for children, they also can help adults going through a stressful event.

For more information about Ben’s Blue Bags visit their Facebook page,