U.S. Senator Dick Durbin highlights new funding available for Illinois Rural EMS Agencies
SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today encouraged rural communities in Illinois to apply for a new grant opportunity to support fire and emergency medical services (EMS). The funding, created through Durbin’s Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act, supports EMS agencies in training and recruiting staff, conducting certification courses, and purchasing equipment—for everything from naloxone and personal protective equipment (PPE), to power stretchers or new ambulances. Rural fire and EMS agencies in Illinois interested in applying for grant funding through Durbin’s SIREN Act can apply here until February 14, 2022.
“Across our state, rural EMS agencies are on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis, and treating the emergency needs of an aging population. Yet many face workforce and geographic challenges in their communities and lack steady funding to support their operations,” Durbin said. “That’s why I worked to pass and fund the SIREN Act and am urging rural communities in every corner of our state to take advantage of this funding opportunity.”
Durbin’s bipartisan SIREN Act was signed into law in 2018 as part of the Farm Bill and this is the third year of annual funding for the grant program. Durbin helped secure a $500,000 increase in the Fiscal Year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, for a total of $5.5 million, for SIREN Act grants to rural fire and EMS agencies. Last year, fire and EMS agencies in Lee, Hancock, and Jersey Counties were awarded three of 27 federal grant awards made nationwide.
A decline in primary care and hospital service availability, great distances between health care facilities, and low insurance reimbursement for transport and emergency treatment have all strained rural EMS agencies. At the same time, EMS agencies today are tasked with ever-greater responsibilities—addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for natural and manmade disasters and bioterror threats, supporting the chronic and emergency care needs of an aging population, and responding on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. These first responders are often the only health care providers in their area and face difficulty in personnel recruitment and retention, and securing expensive equipment.