Arkansas will soon join New York as the only states in the country to provide comprehensive disability awareness training to its first responders.
It will do so via the Niagara University First Responders Disability Awareness Training program, which received a three-year, $130,000 grant from the Arkansas Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council to implement the curriculum.
First responders are defined as law enforcement officials, firefighters, emergency medical services staffers, and 911 operators.
The training, developed by Niagara University, is the only program in the nation that provides fully comprehensive disability awareness training for first responders. The "train the trainers" model allows first responders to "own" the program, and provide the training within their departments.
The grant commenced Nov. 1, with NU FRDAT project director David Whalen traveling to Little Rock in January to begin the construct of a customized version of the training for Arkansas' first responders.
Elsewhere, the NU FRDAT program also received a mini-grant from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities to introduce the program there. The $5,000 award will bring Whalen to the Garden State in the spring to conduct abbreviated sessions over the course of two days, with the intent to garner interest for funding of the full program.
Entering its fifth year in New York, NU FRDAT has trained 153 individuals (representing 110 departments) in the firefighter/EMS program and 155 participants (representing 71 departments) in the law enforcement "train the trainer" model.
For more information, call 716-286-7355 or visit http://frdat.niagara.edu.