Fire and EMS funding in the American Rescue Plan

The proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan contains several components that can be used for fire and EMS funding


The FY2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 133) provided additional COVID-19 relief and funding for the federal government until Sept. 20, 2021. This means increases in funding for grant programs many first responders rely on for necessary equipment and personnel, including increases to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant and the Rural Emergency Medical Services Training Grant. Although the Consolidated Appropriations Act includes an extension of the CARES Act and grants for hospitals and health care providers, it does not include additional funding for local and state governments for COVID-19 relief.

The $1.9 trillion emergency stimulus plan, the American Rescue Plan, is the next anticipated support for COVID-19 pandemic response. But how will this ambitious plan impact first responders, including EMS agencies?

Below are major plan components to look out for when it comes to funding and relief opportunities:

EMS agencies must begin planning to apply for and receive continued funding.
EMS agencies must begin planning to apply for and receive continued funding. (Photo/Getty Images)
  • $440 billion in support to struggling communities and toward protecting the jobs of first responders and healthcare workers from layoffs
  • $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments in an effort to maintain employment for frontline workers, which includes first responders
  • Hiring a vaccination workforce: The plan is to hire 100,000 public health workers to support community vaccination initiatives and improve the quality of health care services, with a focus on underserved communities.

It is yet to be confirmed how these monies will be distributed and if distribution will follow similar guidance to the CARES Act. Potentially, distribution of funds could be as flexible as the Coronavirus Relief Fund (part of the CARES Act).

Additional Funding Opportunities

As we face a continued pandemic response, EMS agencies must begin planning to apply for and receive continued funding. The Rural EMS Training Grant and private grant programs represent two good opportunities for pursuing funding outside the American Rescue Plan.

The deadline for the Rural Emergency Medical Services Training Grant (offered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) was extended to March 18, 2021. This program can be used to obtain funding to:

  • Provide initial and re-certification training for EMS personnel
  • Train EMS personnel on caring for patients with mental and substance use disorders during emergency situations
  • Acquire EMS equipment for training purposes
  • Obtain naloxone and training EMS personnel on the administration of naloxone

For more federal funding opportunities, you can search Grants.gov.

Private and corporate funders are also important to consider when searching for pandemic response funding. Take advantage of online search databases, such as Lexipol’s GrantFinder, or develop a familiarity and build relationships with local industries in the area. Some funders to look out for include community foundations. Many have established COVID-19 relief funds, typically searchable by county or geographical area, that provide funding to 501(c)3 nonprofits and public entities responding to the pandemic. Many are still ongoing and accept applications on a rolling basis. For more information, you can visit the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative

Additionally, many corporate foundations also continue to accept applications for relief funding in their geographic areas. Many banks, community foundations, insurance companies etc will provide funding for local response.

Prepare Now to Secure Vital Funds

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to challenge EMS agencies throughout 2021 and economic impacts of the pandemic are likely to be felt for years afterward. Grant funding and federal assistance such as the American Rescue Plan will be critical to your agency’s financial stability.

To position your agency for success, consider these tips:

  1. Continue to stay in contact with city and county leaders.
  2. Continue your search for funding beyond federal dollars, including corporate and private foundation searches.
  3. Ensure your agency’s SAM.gov registration is current. Check here for more info or to register.
  4. Prepare financial audits, statements and 990s in ready-to-share access for quick posting.

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