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One Puzzle Piece at a Time: Sensory Kits Enhance Emergency Response in Campbell County and Soon the Rest of Wyoming

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  • Written By: Norberto Orellana
One Puzzle Piece at a Time: Sensory Kits Enhance Emergency Response in Campbell County and Soon the Rest of Wyoming

GILLETTE, Wyo. - Oct. 17, 2023 - In an initiative aimed at enhancing the lives of individuals with sensory disorders and ensuring their safety in emergency situations, Campbell County Health EMS proudly announces that it has become the inaugural recipient of Sensory Kits made possible through generous funding provided by Wyoming EMSC (Emergency Medical Services for Children) and delivered by Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation.

Cody's Legacy Inspires Positive Change

Cody Sams passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident five years ago at the age of 21. Cody leaves a legacy of compassion and selflessness. His remarkable and kind spirit, which inspired those around him, forms the heart of this initiative aimed at enhancing the lives of individuals with sensory disorders and ensuring their safety in emergencies.

"Cody was the type of kid who helped anybody and everybody," said Heather and Shawn, Cody's parents.

The genesis of these transformative sensory kits is rooted in the memory of this young man, a high-functioning autistic individual with a powerful and innate desire to help those in need. Cody's memory and his enduring impact on those around him continue to inspire a profound journey of compassion and advocacy.

In honor of Cody's legacy, his family embarked on a mission to create positive change in the lives of individuals with sensory disorders. One of their significant achievements was the passage of the Driver's License Medical Alert Designation law, known colloquially as "Cody's Law." This legislation mandates the state of Wyoming to allocate a designated section on driver's licenses for medical alerts, allowing individuals to communicate vital medical information to emergency personnel in times of crisis.

Raising Awareness and Founding Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation

Cody's family initiated fundraising efforts to produce posters and materials to enhance public awareness and promote safety for individuals with sensory issues. The idea of establishing a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization was suggested, leading to the formation of Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation. The foundation's primary objectives include:

  • Spreading awareness about the availability of medical alerts on driver's licenses.

  • Ensuring that sensory kits funded by EMSC are delivered to ambulance services across Wyoming.

  • Restocking sensory kits as the items are used.

  • Funding sensory kits for law enforcement and fire command vehicles.

The foundation advocated for sensory kits in emergency vehicles, and Wyoming EMSC moved to fund such kits in all ambulances across Wyoming. Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation is assisting in delivering the kits to ambulance services across the state, beginning with Campbell County Health EMS. The foundation plans to help fund the restocking of the kits to ensure every emergency vehicle always has one ready.

The sensory kits distributed by Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation and funded by EMSC are thoughtfully designed to address a wide range of sensory needs. Each kit includes various items, such as fidget toys, sunglasses, noise-canceling earmuffs, a weighted blanket, and a communication card. These items are carefully selected to comfort individuals of all ages who may experience sensory challenges during emergencies. Sensory issues manifest in diverse forms, and no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation aims to provide a "piece to the puzzle" for law enforcement and emergency workers when interacting with individuals who have sensory disorders.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to protect individuals like Cody and the dedicated EMS staff, firefighters, police officers, and others who respond to emergencies. While Cody had advocates during his fatal crash, not everyone may have that, and that needs to change. Including a medical alert on driver's licenses can inform law enforcement and emergency personnel about the need for specialized approaches, bridging gaps, and opening lines of communication. Sensory kits offer an invaluable avenue to assist those with sensory disorders to refocus, deescalate, and advocate for their needs.

Wyoming EMSC has taken a significant step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of those with sensory disorders, and Campbell County Health EMS is honored to be the first recipient of the sensory kits – delivered by Heather and Shawn from Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation. The foundation is committed to extending more support to communities and emergency services across Wyoming, carrying on Cody's legacy of compassion and kindness.

Heather and Shawn summed up Cody's Puzzle Piece Foundation in a single powerful statement: "It's us doing Cody's work in helping others – one puzzle piece at a time."

About Campbell County Health (CCH): An affiliate of UCHealth, CCH includes Campbell County Memorial Hospital, an acute care community hospital in Gillette Wyoming; Campbell County Medical Group with nearly 20 clinics; The Legacy Living & Rehabilitation Center long-term care center and the Powder River Surgery Center. With around 80 providers, 1,200 total staff and over 20 specialties, CCH is committed to serving our community by providing a lifetime of care with dedication, skill and compassion.


  • Category: News Room