• NU FRDAT receives $85,000 grant from Tower Foundation, solidifies program in Erie (NY) and Niagara (NY) counties and beyond

  • New Train the Trainer dates: Jefferson NY Fire/EMS May 18-19, Erie NY Fire/EMS June 1/3/6, national LE on campus June 11-12, Dutchess Fire/EMS Nov 13-14

  • 91 law enforcement agencies and 135 FDs/EMS agencies represented at Train the Trainer sessions Learn More →

  • Arkansas first responders very receptive of Disability Awareness Training. Local news highlights program. Learn More →

  • New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities funds mini-grant to introduce FRDAT to their state - Law Enforcement introduction June 9, Fire/EMS introduction June 10

  • Dean Ireland and Project Director have productive meeting with US Department of Justice, talks continue

  • FRDAT and Project Director featured in Buffalo News article Learn More →

  • Project Director to present at National Emergency Number Assn, Denver June 28-30, & International LE Educators & Trainers Assn, Wheeling (IL) April 21-22

  • Project Director to attend FEMA Emergency Management Institute to be trained as NYS Access and Functional Needs Specialist.

  • Project Director to attend New Jersey Pathways to Justice Committee March 26

Welcome to Niagara University's First Responder Disability Awareness Training

police officer

People depend on first responders to assist in a variety of emergencies, whether natural disasters, physical or medical needs, service or protection. Some of those people may have some type of disability. It is imperative that first responders are prepared to assist all members of their community in order to ensure their well-being and quality of life.


The First Responder Disability Awareness Training (FRDAT) offered by Niagara University is designed to give you the knowledge necessary to best serve and respond to individuals with disabilities. Created in cooperation with all the major first responder associations, councils and state offices in New York State, the curriculum is specifically customized for each first responder discipline, providing information that is current, relevant, and easily implemented.

Download our brochure

Our Mission

DDPC award podium photo 5 29 14

The current mission of FRDAT is to develop a training curriculum for law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS) and 911 operators that provides all first responders with the knowledge necessary to best serve and respond to individuals with disabilities.

The content of the training curriculum will be specific to first responder needs when interacting and responding to incidents, situations, and accidents that involve individuals with disabilities. Other disciplines to receive customized curriculum include probation, corrections, and security.

"Soon after the training started I realized it's very relevant to the police department and first responders. Whether a person with a disability is a victim or an offender, you need to realize why this person is responding or not responding in a certain way. Also, it's very good to know how to communicate. It's very important to know what to do and not to do, especially for the victim's sake." - Police Captain

"I am writing to let you know that last week, I attended the train-the-trainer for FIRST RESPONDERS – DISABILITY AWARENESS TRAINING at the Law Enforcement Training Director’s meeting in Saratoga Springs taught by David Whalen. In my over thirty-years of law-enforcement experience, I have attended many, many trainings, including the prestigious FBI National Academy. I must say that David’s presentation was on par with the finest trainings I’ve attended. I must admit, at the start, I was not overly enthused to find out that we would be spending two (2) entire days on this topic…HOWEVER, David’s passion and energy for the topic kept me interested and tuned in and I learned more about common disabilities that law-enforcement is most likely to come in contact with then I even knew existed. The instructor/trainer notebook and PowerPoints were as professional as I have seen and very easy to understand and teach from. Kudos to Niagara University for this program and for DAVID WHALEN. The presentation was inspiring and once I returned I took immediate steps to incorporate what I had learned into teachings at the recruit and in-service levels.” - Law Enforcement Program Coordinator

About the Trainingcrash scene

The FRDAT curriculum offers a strong foundation in sensitivity training. It includes definitions of disabilities and the proper response to each; information on state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act; etiquette and interaction tips; person-first language and ways to overcome communication barriers; service provision and caregiver roles and responsibilities; and extensive resources. In addition, discipline-specific topics are incorporated to ensure the training meets your particular needs.


The current product is in a Train-the-Trainer format which includes a working manual complete with PowerPoint presentation with talking points, handouts on each disability and relevant topics therein, community resources, state and local websites, and a resource manual. Once a trainer completes the training, he/she becomes the point person in his/her department or agency. The FRDAT office maintains an ongoing relationship with you, providing you with the support you need to answer any question, as well as connections with local resources and individuals who can assist you in your municipality or region.

"All in all, I was very glad that I signed up for this training. I also believe that when I bring this info back to my department, and other local departments, that my EMS peers will also feel the same benefits and growth from this knowledge. I was also appreciative of all the talking points which ard included." - Certified EMS Instructor

Out of State Disclaimer

To note, all of the information on this website is applicable to first responders in New York State under the state's regulations, guidelines, and laws. However, the trainings and information can be easily adapted to other states. Please consult with your local or state laws to ensure that you are abiding by the correct regulations.

Programs offered include:

  • 2-day single-discipline Train the Trainer
  • 4-day multidiscipline Train the Trainer
  • Full day department-specific presentation
  • Other options per request

Contact us for pricing.