WNE OT Collaborates with West Springfield Fire Dept to Launch “BEary Calm Bags” Project

The WNE Department of Occupational Therapy, in collaboration with the West Springfield Fire Department (WSFD), has launched the “BEary Calm Bags” project. This initiative aims to enhance the emergency response experience for individuals requiring extra assistance by providing sensory aids to promote calmness and comfort during ambulance rides.

The “BEary Calm Bags” include items such as sunglasses, noise-canceling headphones, pop-it fidgets, weighted lap pads, communication aides, and a pinwheel for deep breathing. These tools are designed to manage sensory input and promote relaxation, improving the overall experience for both patients and emergency responders.

West Springfield Fire Chief C.J. Bartone emphasized the importance of this project, stating that specialized training from WNE’s disability studies experts will equip EMTs and paramedics with skills to address diverse community needs during emergencies. Assistant Professors Alexis Morin and Erin Wells, lead collaborators on the project, leveraged their extensive experience working with diverse populations to develop this initiative.

Morin’s husband, Zak, a paramedic and lieutenant with WSFD, played a key role in facilitating the collaboration. Along with second-year occupational therapy students, they developed the bags and a training video for first responders. The project aims to expand beyond WSFD, with plans to gather feedback and secure grant funding for sustainability.