Niagara University's first responder disability awareness training program has received a three-year, $320,000 grant from the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.
The award will fund the development of training in New York state for emergency managers, those who have a role in emergency response, individuals with disabilities and service provider agencies. Its intent is to educate these constituents on planning, preparedness, response and recovery for individuals with disabilities.
NU FRDAT project director David Whalen will oversee the grant and its development, ensuring its full implementation through continued work with several state offices, including the Office of Emergency Management and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. He will also be working closely with the disability community in the development of core advisory groups that recognize individuals with disabilities as partners in the planning process.
Whalen is a FEMA-trained instructor as well as the past chair of the New York State Independent Living Council's emergency preparedness committee. He was named Advocate of the Year for 2016 by Deaf Access Services of Western New York.
New York State Sen. Rob Ortt, chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, said, "Niagara University's FRDAT program is a vital tool that allows our emergency personnel to effectively and efficiently respond to emergency situations dealing with our most vulnerable population. I'm pleased to see this training continue with the help of this grant, and I commend NU's commitment to our first responders and the disability community across the state."
Niagara University's First Responders Disability Awareness Training program is customized for each first responder discipline - firefighters, 911 operators/dispatchers, emergency medical services (EMS), and law enforcement. Created in cooperation with all major first responder associations, councils and state offices, the training is designed to give first responders the knowledge necessary to best serve and respond to individuals with disabilities.
In addition to New York, the training program has been contracted in various capacities in Arkansas, Missouri, Montana and New Jersey.
Established in 2010, the program received the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council 2014 Forging Pathways Award. Additional information can be found at http://frdat.niagara.edu or by calling 716-286-7355.