Life after AFG for EMS

While AFG is well worth applying for, there are many other options available


By Steve Buckner

What if your agency did not get an award from the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program? Even if they were successful, what else is available?

AFG has a lot of publicity, but for "EMS only" agencies it is very difficult to get funding — the program only allocates a maximum of 2 percent of its available funding for EMS only organizations. This figure is dispersed between two different categories: "EMS Operations and Safety" and "EMS Vehicle Acquisition."

There are five categories within EMS Operations and Safety

  • EMS training
  • EMS Equipment Acquisition
  • EMS Personal Protective Equipment
  • EMS Wellness and Fitness
  • Modifications to EMS Stations and Facilities.

As the next AFG program gets closer, I will be addressing all of these in greater detail and further information in the meantime can be found here

Simply put, for EMS agencies, AFG is possibly not the most obtainable source for funding. While it's still well worth applying for, there are many other options available. All it takes is due diligence with checking what becomes available and meeting the requirements and deadlines they have.

Federal grants
There are multiple federal grants available throughout the year. For example, the US Department of Agriculture is currently offering a grant for rural services. Among many other items, included in the list of areas that they will be awarding is: "Rescue and Ambulance Service Buildings and Rescue and Ambulance and Equipment." The guidance for this can be found here.

Another example of a federal grant available right now is the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS). This is funding to enhance catastrophic incident preparedness in high-risk, high-consequence urban areas and their surrounding regions.

State grants
The state health department frequently offers funding for EMS on the state level. For example, in Colorado there is an open application process for the "Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Provider Grant Program." The guidelines for this can be found here. The areas included in the available funding categories are:

  • Ambulances/other vehicle
  • Communications Data collection
  • Equipment
  • Injury prevention
  • Recruitment
  • Personnel and service
  • "Other"

There is only a small list of items that this grant is not able to fund. Also, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and many other state level awards are available. These are frequently able to help with the purchase of equipment as well as addressing other needs such as communications and vehicles.

Corporate or private grants
These are a great possibility for any agency wanting to start up a program for the community. Depending on what your agency's needs are, there are companies from Home Depot to Walgreens that are willing to provide funding for different projects. Public education, CPR, car seat and child passenger safety and disaster relief would all be examples of areas that corporate funds would be available to start up. These programs are excellent for the community and give your agency an excellent name and reputation There are also corporations willing to provide funding for EMS equipment.

What you need to know
With both federal and state funding, there may be a higher percentage of cost matching than AFG requires. This can even be up to even 50 percent award match. This presents a need for possibly planning further ahead and may prevent unnecessary requests. Depending on what your agency's needs are, there are grants available for equipment and vehicles, but there are also funds available for communications, education and training, and public outreach programs.

What you need to do
One resource that is extremely user friendly is EMSgrantshelp.com. If you log in after creating a profile, which is free, you can search grants by a keyword such as "EMS" or "equipment." A search can also be done by state, federal, or corporate availability. Checking these frequently is important because some of them are listed for many months or even with an open deadline, but some of them are very time sensitive.

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