The Call - Winter 2016 - 20

F E AT U R E

NENA

HELPS BRING DISABILITY
AWARENESS TRAINING
TO THE FOREFRONT
David V. Whalen, Niagara University
On a fall night outside Poughkeepsie,
N.Y., a 62‑year‑old man with dementia
and an intellectual disability wandered
out of a residence for individuals with
developmental disabilities. Somewhere
along his elopement, he would go to a
neighbor, who by all accounts knew who
he was, and bang on his garage door,
leading the man to call 9‑1‑1. A state
trooper arrived and found himself
engaged with the man, who couldn't

recognize law enforcement and was not
capable of understanding his wrongful
actions. Missing in all of this was a
simple call to 9‑1‑1 from the residential
staff to indicate that he was missing, an
act of negligence that would lead to an
investigation and a front page article
in the local paper. That call would have
eliminated all that transpired, including
an arrest that was later dismissed.
Individuals with disabilities pose
unique challenges to first responders,
a fact recognized in 2010 by the New
York State Developmental Disabilities
Planning Council (DDPC) when Niagara
University (NU) was awarded a
subsequent five‑year grant to
develop training for 9‑1‑1 dispatch,
law enforcement, firefighters,
and emergency medical
services. The NU First
Responders Disability
Awareness Training
(FRDAT) has since
received a full
grant in the state
of Missouri
through their

DDPC. New Jersey funded a mini‑grant,
which led to the accreditation of the
training for 9‑1‑1 dispatch in that state.
Individuals with disabilities pose
unique challenges for first responders,
and within the four disciplines, the
differences become even more exclusive.
Specific to 9‑1‑1 operations, NU FRDAT
has customized a Train the Trainer
program, which draws on the interface
with responders, providing information
that can be shared to immediately
minimize negative interactions, avoid
lawsuits (particularly in regard to the
Americans with Disabilities Act), and
provide direction. That said, it also
serves to expose dispatchers to the
disabilities they don't see, offering both
literature and video to provide concrete
information while allowing personnel to
recognize speech and other disabilities,
understand assistive technology
and augmentative communication,
and be sensitized to include proper
etiquette and interaction skills as well as
person‑first language.
The incident in Poughkeepsie is
just one of a long list of unfortunate
events that have transpired over the
years. Recent research notes that 50
to 80 percent of a police officer's day
entails interactions with individuals with
disabilities, and half the individuals killed
by law enforcement have a disability.
This is not intended to cast a negative
light; conversely, it emphasizes the
need for sensitization and education
across all four disciplines.
If an officer does not understand
that he or she is interacting with a

20

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Winter 2016

President’s Message
From the CEO
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
Government Affairs
10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
Tech Trends
NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
Operations
Educational and Operational Issues
Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
Index to Advertisers/Advertisers.com
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover1
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover2
The Call - Winter 2016 - 3
The Call - Winter 2016 - 4
The Call - Winter 2016 - 5
The Call - Winter 2016 - 6
The Call - Winter 2016 - 7
The Call - Winter 2016 - President’s Message
The Call - Winter 2016 - From the CEO
The Call - Winter 2016 - Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
The Call - Winter 2016 - 11
The Call - Winter 2016 - 12
The Call - Winter 2016 - Government Affairs
The Call - Winter 2016 - 10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
The Call - Winter 2016 - 15
The Call - Winter 2016 - 16
The Call - Winter 2016 - 17
The Call - Winter 2016 - 18
The Call - Winter 2016 - Tech Trends
The Call - Winter 2016 - NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
The Call - Winter 2016 - 21
The Call - Winter 2016 - 22
The Call - Winter 2016 - Operations
The Call - Winter 2016 - Educational and Operational Issues
The Call - Winter 2016 - 25
The Call - Winter 2016 - Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
The Call - Winter 2016 - 27
The Call - Winter 2016 - 28
The Call - Winter 2016 - 29
The Call - Winter 2016 - 30
The Call - Winter 2016 - 31
The Call - Winter 2016 - 32
The Call - Winter 2016 - 33
The Call - Winter 2016 - Index to Advertisers/Advertisers.com
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover3
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover4
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