Senators John F. Kerry and Scott Brown and Representative Stephen F. Lynch announced that the South Norfolk County Arc (SNCARC) has been awarded a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant of $52,780 under the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. These federal funds will support the expansion of the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) which provides first responders with the training necessary to recognize and communicate with adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
"This investment will help Captain Cannata and his team of first responders keep our communities safe," said Senator Kerry.
"Every day, our hardworking firefighters risk their lives to keep our families and communities safe, and we owe it to them to provide the tools they need to stay safe in their dangerous jobs. This funding is an important step in that direction, and I am pleased our firefighters will soon receive resources that will allow them to better carry out their work," Senator Brown said.
Congressman Lynch said, "Because of the good work of Westwood Fire Captain Bill Cannata and all of those at the ALEC Program, our first responders are getting the training they need to respond effectively to any situation, keeping families and communities safe. I commend Captain Cannata, SNCARC and the ALEC Program for all the work they do and congratulate them on the expansion of such a vital program."
Founded in 2003, the ALEC program began as a group of concerned parents and first responders who recognized a growing need for training that assisted firefighters, law enforcement and EMTs to effectively respond to situations involving individuals with autism. South Norfolk County Arc and the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office, under the guidance of Congressman William Keating, spearheaded this collaborative effort. ALEC now trains first responders statewide and throughout New England. With the help of this Fire Prevention and Safety Grant, the ALEC Program will expand into an additional 14 states.
Captain Bill Cannata, Project Coordinator of the ALEC Program said, "With the success of the ALEC Program for the fire service in the state of Massachusetts, ALEC saw the opportunity to expand this training with the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. Fire departments and fire service agencies from other states are looking forward to ALEC instructors training and expanding the program in their states. The grant will also help ALEC to continue training in Massachusetts."