The New Grant on the Block

There is a new federal grant on the block and virtually no one is speaking about it.  This grant has the chances to make a huge difference to departments.  Therefore, you need to be aware of it now, so that you may plan for the grant process.

The Law

Photo by Tony Greco.

On April 5, 2018, Representative Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) introduced in the United States House of Representatives a bill called the Siren Act of 2018 (H.R. 5429).  In short, this bill was written to reauthorize the Rural EMS Training and Assistance Program.  Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced the bill in the Senate (S.2830).  As with many bills, they were referred to committees and changed over time.

This bill never made it out of committee.  However, the good news for us in EMS (including fire-based EMS), is that it was added to a bill called H.R. 2 Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.  President Donald Trump signed this bill into law on December 20th, 2018.  This is truly a Christmas present for agencies providing EMS services.

So now the background is over; let us take a minute and discuss what this Act, specifically the EMS portion of the Act, means for us.

In short, this Act reauthorizes the Rural EMS Training and Assistance Program.  This is a grant program that is designed for EMS including fire-based EMS agencies.  In essence, it is an Assistance to Firefighters Grant for EMS.

Am I Eligible?

There are several criteria for eligibility for this grant.

First, you must be a local or tribal government which provides EMS (Fire-based and Non-Fire Based) -or- be an emergency medical services agency that is a 501(c) certified and tax exempt under 501(a) from the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code.  As part of this, your agency must provide service to, or be located in, a rural setting.  The law defines rural as any area designated by State regulation or law as rural, a rural census tract within a metropolitan area as designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), or a non-metropolitan statistical area (i.e. an area that is not densely populated or sharing of economic similarities).

Second, you must submit an application as designated by the proper Federal official.  Since this is a new law, the information that the application requests is still uncertain.  However, I would think that information would be similar to the AFG application in referencing information such as your Tax Identification Number, DUNS number, and demographic information.

How Much Can I Get?

The Law specifically defines that an organization can request up to $200,000.00.  The only downside here is that this is a matching grant.  The organization that is awarded the grant must be willing to provide a ten percent (10%) match through direct funding of the agency or through other Non-Federal contributions. This means your match has to be funded through you own budget, through other non-federal grants, loans, and other non-federal type funds.

What Can I Use the Money to Purchase?

That is a very good question.  This Law defines what you can use the funds from this grant to purchase.  The Law states that you can use the grant for:

  • Training for emergency medical service personnel in order to obtain a credential or certification,
  • Provide training for personnel to be able to fulfill their duties as EMS providers and fulfill the mission of the agency,
  • Achieve State or Federal requirements for licensure,
  • Purchase emergency medical service equipment,
  • Recruit and retain emergency medical services staff and volunteers,
  • Development of technology in training personnel, and
  • Purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for personnel as needed and defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

There seems to be mainly three categories; training, equipment, and recruitment and retention.  One point of note is that training is mentioned throughout the section of the Law.  Generally, in laws and request for proposals (grant applications) when something like training is mentioned multiple times, it is a sign that they are weighing heavy on that aspect.  Four out of the seven funding areas mention training which indicates that training may be a focal point of this grant program at least for now.

What Should I Be Doing Now?

As of the writing of this article, there are no definitive dates, applications, and such for the Grant.  However, now is the time to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in order to be prepared for the Grant when it is officially released.

First, start defining what your project looks like.  Do you wish to send five people to EMS Today for training?  Do you want to begin an official recruitment and retention program?  What does your project look like?  Also we need to make sure we have general ideas of how this project meets the intentions of the Law as set forth above.

Second, start making objectives.  What are you trying to accomplish with this project?  A good objective may be to decrease turnover by 10% in the next twelve months.  We should have proper objectives but not so many that we are unable to meet the main goal we have.  In these objectives, we also need to remember the acronym SMART:

  • Specific: Is the objective specific for everyone to understand it?
  • Measurable: Can we measure to see if we met the objective?
  • Attainable: Is this something that is within our authority to do and accomplish?
  • Realistic: Is this objective one that is reasonable and likely to be obtained through the process?
  • Timely: Does the objective include a time frame that gives the project a sense of legitimate and realistic urgency?

Third, make sure that you are keeping very good records of everything that deals with statistics.  When you write up your application, remember to try to say it with statistics.  Why do you need this funding?  What will be the outcome with this project?  These bits of information come from proper statistics and record keeping.

Finally, keep up to date with grant information.  Find avenues like Fire Engineering’s Email ListServ where you can find information on things such as new grants.  This is the only way you will hear about the request for proposal for this and many other grants.

Now or Maybe Never

It is time to prepare for this new Grant that is on the horizon.  Based on the Law, it will be provided in 2019.  Unfortunately, the Law only provides for this Grant from 2019-2023.  So now is the time to act and get prepared.  Get grant ready and be prepared to submit your application!  Good luck!

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