The Clayton Fire Department is joining Johnston County Emergency Services- EMS Division to implement a new measure to address the comfort and security needs of children in crisis.
Beginning this week, all Clayton Fire Trucks and the Battalion Chief vehicle will have a Carter Kit on board. A Carter Kit is a bag of sensory items clinically proven to comfort and appropriately focus children on the autism spectrum and other children or adults who become overwhelmed during stressful or traumatic events.
In November 2022, Johnston County ambulances and supervisor vehicles received Carter Kits through an Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) grant. Additionally, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Captain and Pediatric Coordinator Allison Bissette became a certified Carter Kit instructor, enabling her to train other first responders and expand the program in Johnston County. Carter Kit training consists of two hours of informational, hands-on, and interactive training.
According to Bissette, within the first 12 hours of implementing Carter Kits on Johnston County ambulances, the tool was used on a call. In the first quarter of 2023, the Carter Kit was utilized 25 times, and not just for children. The kit has helped an adult with dementia and a veteran experiencing a PTSD episode.
“Seeing the success that EMS has had, made our fire department want to learn more about the kits. The more we heard about these them, the more it made sense to add them to all our trucks.” Deputy Fire Chief Matt Sutphin said. “Having Captain Bissette available to train our staff was a great resource.”
Each kit contains a weighted blanket, noise-canceling headphones, a set of fidget toys, sunglasses, and a non-verbal cue card. Each item was intentionally chosen by a neuropsychologist based on research. They are reusable, cleanable, and replaceable. When a piece of the kit is used on call, it is replaced by the Carter Kit non-profit organization, free of charge.
The EMSC program’s goal is to provide Carter Kits to every EMS agency in the state, promoting the mission of improving the care of injured and ill children. Nationwide over 7,000 Carter Kits have been placed into service in 35 different states.
The benefits and advantages of implementing Carter Kits in Johnston County are just beginning, said Bissette. Johnston County Emergency Services – Emergency Management Division has stocked kits in each of their shelter trailers, which are set up as emergency shelters following natural disasters or crises.
The Carter Kit is named after Carter Severs, an autistic child from Frankenmuth, Michigan. Carter’s father, Justin Severs, is a detective with the Saginaw Township (MI) Police Department and wanted to help first responders interact with children like Carter when arriving at a scene.