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Mercy Flights Partners with Autism Society of Oregon on Sensory Bags

By April 19, 2024No Comments

Mercy Flights and the Autism Society of Oregon are partnering to provide sensory bags to help individuals who may need additional assistance when affected by a traumatic event. Sensory bags will be used by healthcare professionals to provide items that can soothe and calm those who are directly or indirectly impacted by an emergency call.

The Mercy Flights Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) team and representatives from the Autism Society of Oregon collaborated on this project as healthcare professionals across all departments identified a growing need for sensory items when responding to calls and transporting patients. The sensory bags provide a variety of items, including:

  1. Sunglasses
  2. Stress ball
  3. Fidgets
  4. Non-verbal communication cards
  5. Pen and whiteboard
  6. Noise canceling headphones
  7. Weighted blanket or bear

Sensory bag materials will be available in both English and Spanish throughout all of Jackson County. Items such as non-verbal communication cards are one of the many ways healthcare professionals can help communicate with individuals who may be overwhelmed or uneasy when confronted with new people and processes. “We are thankful for our partnership with the Autism Society of Oregon as they have guided and educated us on best practice. By the end of the year, every Mercy Flights vehicle will carry a sensory bag and each employee will be trained on how to identify and deploy the bags to those in need,” stated Sabrina Ballew, Mobile Integrated Healthcare Manager.

Through local grants and partnerships, Mercy Flights has roughly 75 sensory bags ready to be dispersed into emergency vehicles for use. The bags are tailored to both youth and adults and don’t necessarily need to be used just for those who are experiencing traditional sensory issues.

“Sensory bags can be used to help individuals in a variety of different ways, including calming an overwhelmed child who is having an adverse reaction to lights and sirens, to an adult suffering from anxiety, to individuals who are easily overloaded when something unexpected happens. We have seen countless positive outcomes when sensory bags are in the right hands, and we look forward to partnering with Mercy Flights to provide better health outcomes to those who are vulnerable,” stated Rhonda Smerdon, Autism Society of Oregon, Chapter Representative for Southern Oregon.

The Autism Society of Oregon’s mission is to create connections, empowering everyone of all ages in the Autism community throughout Oregon with the resources to live fully. We provide help finding and accessing Autism resources, education about Autism, host support groups and community inclusion activities, and advocate for policy changes. We don’t charge for our services and a formal diagnosis is not required. All of the funds we raise remain in Oregon to support our programs. For more information on the Autism Society and the benefits of sensory bags, please visit

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