BAY SHORE - The Bay Shore Fire Department is launching a new system to protect residents with special needs during emergencies.
The department is collecting information about children and adults with special needs in a database.
A group of concerned mothers, the Special Moms Network, initially developed the program.
Kimberly Sennes says the program arms first responders with background knowledge about children with special needs. Sennes has an 8-year-old who is nonverbal and has autism, and a 5-year-old with ADHD.
Dana DeRuvo, co-founder of the Special Moms Network, says the information can be lifesaving.
"If you have a person with autism that is nonverbal that may go and hide, they'll have that information to maybe go check a closet in the hallway," DeRuvo says.
They'll also know that there may be someone in a house who won't call for help or respond to commands.
Bay Shore Fire Department Capt. Michael Sutch says he's responded to house fires where the homeowner was hard of hearing.
"They couldn't hear our instructions to come to the door," Sutch says.