Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christina Spoons


New York State first responders, including police, fire, and emergency medical personnel, often lack consistent awareness and diversity training to assist at-risk populations, which can pose challenges to preparedness and response strategies during disasters and emergencies. The purpose of this study was to assess the awareness and diversity training practices among first responders across New York State in assisting people with at-risk characteristics during disasters. Punctuated equilibrium theory provided the framework for the study. Data from interviews with 15 participants and from historical and legal documents were coded and analyzed to identify themes. Findings indicated that that there had been a lack of consistent awareness and diversity training provided to first responders in New York State, and that awareness and diversity training would help first responders assist at-risk populations during disasters. Findings indicated a need for systemic changes across New York State to provide consistent awareness and diversity training to first responders. Findings may be used to establish diversity training curricula for first responders assisting at-risk populations during disasters.