Emergencies: Dial 9-1-1
Information: (650) 851-1594

When Words Are Not Enough

“An educational tool for Fire Department personnel and other “First Responders”


Communicating with individuals who have impaired communication skills due to various physical, psycho-social, developmental, and or learning disabilities can be extremely challenging to first responders at an emergency scene. In fact, lack of communication ability between emergency personnel and their patients can waste valuable time in initial medical assessments, risk further injury to the patient, require additional personnel to help with individual, and sometimes compromise necessary treatment and or transport.

This program is designed as an educational tool for fire department “first responders”, children in special education classes and other individuals who may have difficulty communicating during emergencies because of a disability. 

This program has 4 components:

The video depicts emergency personnel using the communication strategies and tools described in the manual.  There is also a demonstration of each of the basic symbols as an individual hand sign.

The Manual with basic information about individuals with various disabilities and communication difficulties a first responder may encounter on a call involving these individuals (in addition to the manual, a one-hour training session regarding the information is available upon request).

A communication booklet to be used on calls when necessary as well as an adjunct to various educational presentations fire personnel provide to individuals with disabilities.

Poster depicting “first responders” as “friends” The poster will include both signs/icons and illustrations of first responders “in action”. These posters are special reminders when placed in the fire station or in the special education classrooms at schools.

Who will benefit from this program?

All First Repsonders, including Fire Departments, Ambulance personnel, Sheriff’s Office, Highway Patrol, City Police Departments, and Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Groups.

What is the cost of curriculum?

There is no charge to use or copy and of the curriculum materials. This program was created and funded by Woodside Fire Protection District under a FEMA grant.

How do I order a copy for my agency?

You may download or order the curriculum including the video, instruction manual, symbol/sign booklet and poster off this website or contact Public Education Officer/CERPP Coordinator, Selena Brown, at (650) 423-1406.


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Contact Us

808 Portola Rd #C
Portola Valley, CA  USA
Tel: (650) 851-1594
Fax: (650) 851-3960
For Emergencies, Dial 9-1-1

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