First Responder Training

LifeLine has developed a special needs (vs. diagnosis specific) First Responder Training Course to build the skills of metro Chattanooga’s front lines. It is something that has been on the heart of our board and staff for almost 10 years based on circumstances and scenarios encountered by families we serve as well as an increasing national awareness of first responder interactions with families affected by disability.  It is our goal to equip police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical services to respond with the greatest level of support and dignity when they encounter an opportunity to serve someone living with a disability. 
SNAP’s Goals & Objectives include:

  • Understand challenges faced by families and how that impacts their interaction with first responders
  • Understand the prevalence of disability among those who need first responder services
  • Understand potential responses of someone overwhelmed by sensory stimulation
  • Understand potential triggers for someone in an emergent situation and ways to reduce those triggers
  • Understand considerations for verbal exchanges and interactions with the person with disability
  • Understand considerations for verbal exchanges and interactions with family/caregivers of someone with special needs
  • Understand multiple de-escalation techniques
  • Understand ways to identify someone with specials needs whose needs may initially be physically invisible
  • Understand ways that Search & Rescue operations may change when involving a person with a disability


SNAP launched on January 9, 2017 with it’s first fire department training sessions.  Community response has been incredible from both first responders and families and we are excited to see how God will use these training opportunities to build our community. Find the press release here: LifeLine – Press Release SNAP January 2017

Meet SNAP’s Coordinator – Skyler Phillips

Skyler is an EMT-Paramedic and Captain with the Chattanooga Fire Dept.  He and his wife Melissa have been married for 14 years and they have two beautiful sons Noah and Elliott.  Elliott is 2 years old and Noah is almost 6.  When Noah was 3 years old he was diagnosed with autism.
Being a parent of a child with autism changed Skyler’s whole phillips-4perspective on the community he served.  He realized that there was more he needed to know as a first responder and that there was more that others would need to know as well.  Feeling called to raise awareness and provide information, not just for autism, but all special needs, Skyler began with his son’s helicopter infatuation and Erlanger’s Life Force in April 2016. Not long after, Skyler and Lisa Mattheiss began creating a special needs training program for first responders in our area. Skyler and Lisa developed the curriculum for this training with input from several other first responders, current and former police officers, military and civilian emergency medical personnel and parents.   Training will be offered in a 2 hour summary and a longer 4 hour training opportunity.  More than 30 different diagnoses are represented within SNAP training curriculum.
Afskyler-phillips-familyter more than six months of planning, the Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP), kicked off in January 2017 with the training of the Chattanooga Fire Department personnel.  We have already been invited to teach this SNAP class at several other departments all over the metro area and hope to reach all first responders in our immediate area over the next two or three years.  We are also planning parent training over the next several months to begin teaching parents or caregivers how best to prepare for an emergency involving first responders.  God has opened many doors since we started this program and as He continues to open them, we will continue to walk through them.
To read more of the story behind Skyler’s passion, read his post about how a Service Dog for His Son With Autism Impacted His Career.
If you are interested in having a SNAP training opportunity for your police department, fire department, or medical personnel, please let us know.
Contact: Captain Skyler Phillips
SNAP Coordinator, LifeLine, Inc. &
Captain, Chattanooga Fire Department
EMS Coordinator for Chattanooga Fire Department
423 -643-7121
You can also request a workshop online.

Scheduled Trainings as of March 2019

January 9 – May 2017 -Chattanooga Fire Department

January 17, 2017 – Chattanooga Fire Department Chief Training

February 17, 2017 – Erlanger EMT Recert Training

March 2, 2017 – Chattanooga State Paramedic Student Training

March 10, 2017 – SEEMSDA Conference

April 5-7, 2017 – Cleveland Fire Department

April 10, 2017 – Sequoyah Fire Department

April 12, 2017 – Chattanooga State Paramedic Student Training

May 16, 2017 – Chattanooga State Paramedic Student Training

June 12, 19, 26, 2017 – Signal Mountain Fire Department

June 16, 2017 – Atlanta Braves Supervisory Team

July 31, August 1, 2017 – Catoosa County Fire Department

October 4-6, 2017 – Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services

February 12, 2018 – Floyd EMS

February 16, 2018 – Floyd EMS

February 22, 2018 – EMS Today Conference, North Carolina

March 2, 2018 – EMT Refresher, Erlanger Medical Center

March 12, 2018 – Dayton Fire Department

October 23, 2018 – EMAT Conference, Chattanooga TN

February 5, 2019 – Hamilton County Health Department

February 7, 2019 – Floyd County, Georgia Emergency Medical Services

February 11, 2019 – Red Bank, Tennessee Fire Department

February 14, 2019 – Floyd County, Georgia Emergency Medical Services

February 25, 2019 – LifeForce EMT Refresher

February 28, 2019 – Maxim Home Health

March 12, 2019 – Knoxville East Tennessee Healthcare Coalition

March 13, 2019 – Sequatchie Sherriff’s Office Department

March 14, 2019 – TDMT (Tennessee Disaster Medical Team)

Contact Skyler Phillips to schedule.

Like SNAP’s Facebook Page


Thanks to the Tennessee Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities,
you can now see clips from some of SNAP’s First Responder training modules.

In an emergency, first responder training is key. Learn more about new training for firefighters and EMS workers. From recognition to communication to health concerns, emergency calls are just different for persons with disabilities. A new training equips first responders to answer the call:
Watch Individual Modules:

Introduction/Recognizing a Person with a Disability:

Understanding Sensory Integration Disorders:



Other Topics to Consider: