From the American Rescue Plan Act to the latest legislation to pass, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we witnessed history-making legislation in 2021. Many healthcare agencies and first responders are eligible to receive immediate funding allocated to cities and counties through sources such as the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and other sources like the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Rural Healthcare Grants. However, what can first responders and EMS agencies expect in the new year?
Emergency Rural Healthcare Grants
First, a continuation of newly established grant programs is possible. When it comes to grant funding, the USDA is mostly known for the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program, which provides funding to rural communities for a variety of public service needs, including EMS. The newest program, the Emergency Rural Healthcare Grants authorized through the American Rescue Plan, is on a rolling deadline until funds are expended. Following are some highlights:
- The applicant must serve a rural community.
- There are two tracks. Most EMS agencies will apply under Track One. This track provides funds “to support immediate health care needs, to help prepare for a future pandemic event, [and] to increase access to quality health care services.”
- One example of an eligible expense includes purchasing an ambulance.
- To apply, the interested applicant must reach out to their state’s USDA office.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grants
Other grant programs have been in place and are expected to continue in 2022, such as the EMS Rural Training Grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This program has released two application cycles and SAMHSA has forecasted its release for FY22. Rural emergency medical service agencies are eligible to apply. This program aims to fund initiatives that recruit and train emergency medical services personnel in rural areas; it program will fund up to $200,000 for a one-year project period.
Following are the required activities every applicant must implement:
- Train EMS personnel as appropriate to maintain licenses and certifications relevant to serve in an EMS agency.
- Conduct courses that qualify graduates to serve in an EMS agency.
- Fund specific training to meet federal or state licensing or certification requirements.
- Ensure EMS personnel are trained on mental and substance use disorders and care for people with such disorders in emergency situations. Training on these topics does not have to be developed by recipients.
- Acquire EMS equipment.
- Purchase and train EMS personnel on the use of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone for use in opioid overdose emergency situations.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that SAMHSA has forecasted for FY2022 a variety of grant programs that should also be considered by EMS agencies. For example, the First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Grants offer up to $500,000 for local government entities. The purpose of this program “is to allow first responders and members of other key community sectors to administer a drug or device … for emergency reversal of known or suspected opioid overdose.”
The newest program, the Emergency Rural Healthcare Grants authorized through the American Rescue Plan, is on a rolling deadline until funds are expended.
Highway Safety Grant Program
Even if an agency is already familiar with the above programs, one program that may have gone unnoticed is the Highway Safety Grant Program. As a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Highway Safety Program was authorized for $1.892 billion until FY2026. The Highway Safety Grant Program is a state pass-through program. This means states will directly apply and then a state-administering agency is responsible for implementing a grant program, such as distributing the grant solicitations to local communities and distributing funds.
Following are some of the main objectives of Highway Safety Programs (search for Section 24102 at the link):
- Reduce traffic crashes
- Reduce deaths, injuries and property damage resulting from those crashes
- Reduce crashes caused by driver misuse or misunderstanding of new vehicle technology
- Increase vehicle recall awareness
- Provide to the public information relating to the risks of child heatstroke death when left unattended in a motor vehicle after the motor is deactivated by the operator
- Reduce injuries and deaths resulting from the failure by drivers of motor vehicles to move to another traffic lane or reduce speed when first responder vehicles are stopped with emergency lights activated
- Prevent crashes, injuries, and deaths caused by unsecured vehicle loads
Each state is required to submit a triennial highway safety plan, so the first step is for an agency to become familiar with this plan as well as identify the administering agency. For example, the Texas Traffic Safety Program is open for applications until Jan. 5, 2022. Local governments, educational institutions and nonprofits are eligible to apply. This program offers 14 , areas, including Emergency Medical Services (EM). The target of this purpose area is “To improve EMS care and support provided to motor vehicle trauma victims in rural and frontier areas of Texas.”
What should EMS leaders do to ensure their agency is well positioned to receive funding in fiscal year 2022?
- Act now: There are programs currently open. Do not hesitate to apply!
- Prepare: Be ready for grant openings. This means to be familiar with the grant makers’ sites and start tracking release dates. Additionally, be sure to set up necessary registrations like a SAM.gov registration.