PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — First responders on Wednesday learned how to use a new communication board for emergency situations.

The assistive technology board is a communication board to help non-verbal people in emergency situations, said Carrie Kerr, board member of the Peoria Area Speech-Language and Hearing Association (PASHA), an organization of speech language pathologists and audiologists who promote education for local providers.

Kerr said PASHA does a service project every May in honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month. The board was created in collaboration with Advanced Medical Transport and Tri-County Emergency Medical Services.

“When we did a little bit of research into what can we offer to our local responders, we found that there really wasn’t anything out there. And so this was all from scratch. This wasn’t something that already existed,” said Kerr.

On Wednesday, PASHA held a mock simulation and video to train providers how to use the communication boards.

“I would hope it is a big step. I think educating everybody at large so those emergency medical responders know how to use communication systems, when they would be needed and how useful they are is a great first step,” said Kerr.

Kerr said they have created more than 200 communication boards.

“It is something we might make available, hopefully make available on a larger scale as a donation for betterment of people who need access to communication,” she said.

Kerr said the need for communication boards rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, as first responders struggled to communicate with patients experiencing respiratory distress.