Signing awareness could be a way of Saving More Lives
Deaf Awareness Week begins on Monday and Bromsgrove firefighter Sophie Newnes has all the signs of being a great communicator.
Sophie is an operational crew member at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service with a working knowledge of sign language.
"It started when I was coaching martial arts and had the chance to do a beginners' signing course," she said. "I found it really interesting to take part.
"Loads of the other emergency services are really taking it seriously now and I would like to go on to do further courses.
"I've made a point of learning how sign language could be used in my work as a firefighter when I'm on a shout – I have learned how to ask how many people are in a property and whether they are adults or children and where is the source of the fire.
"If I found myself in a situation where someone was signing, then I'm happy that I could understand what they were saying."
Sophie said that she has learned the full alphabet and lots of quick abbreviations. And she has also taught the basics to some of her firefighter colleagues.
"I have not yet had to put the skills to use in a work situation, only in my personal life," she said.
"One of the basic things that everyone should remember is to speak the words as well when they are signing as many deaf people are very good at lip-reading, too."
Deaf Awareness Week takes place from 13 to 19 May.