South Dakota has become the third state to award a grant to Niagara University’s First Responders Disability Awareness Training program to deliver its full package of customized training to law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and 911 telecommunicators.

The $100,000, two-year grant was received from South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities. David Whalen, project director for the NUFRDAT program, will begin implementing the training in April.

“Everyone needs disability awareness training,” said Whalen. “However, first responders have found themselves in challenging scenarios that can be addressed with this specialized training. While many have yet to receive the program, we applaud South Dakota for its progressive stand on bringing our nationally recognized curriculum to the state.”

NUFRDAT program is customized for each first responder discipline – emergency management, firefighters, 911 operators/dispatchers, emergency medical services (EMS), and law enforcement. Established in 2010 and 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. It is the only program in the nation that provides fully comprehensive training for first responders on how to respond to emergencies involving individuals with disabilities, including mental health issues.

New York and Missouri have contracted NUFRDAT’s full training program, while Virginia, New Jersey, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas have contracted it in various capacities. The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), the largest in the United States and universally recognized as the world's busiest and most highly skilled emergency response agency, has also contracted NUFRDAT for training. In 2014, the program received the Forging Pathways Award from the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

Your Thoughts