AMBOY – It isn’t quite Christmas time, but if the Amboy Ambulance and Fire Protection District had a tree up there would be a pretty lofty gift underneath.
U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth announced three recipients of funding in part of Durbin’s Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act on July 28.
Amboy, which has received a federal grant in each of the last three years, was approved for $125,463.
“It’s pretty awesome. We’ve been very fortunate,” said Amboy Fire Chief Jeff Bryant, Sr. “We received the grant for 2020-2021, 21-22, and now this will be our third straight year in 22-23. That’s almost $400,000 worth of federal funding to assist with EMS training. That’s a great thing in recruitment.
“Senator Dick Durbin tried to get this grant funded for 10 years before it actually was funded. He knew the need for rural EMS. He finally got it attached to the farm bill. I met with Senator Durbin after we received the first grant and he really believes in the process and the need for rural EMS.
“I was pretty amazed of his knowledge of the rural EMS picture. I would say I was greatly pleased that somebody at his level, No. 3 in the U.S. Senate, had that much knowledge of what is going on in rural America for EMS and that he had a drive to try to help us.”
Bryant Sr. said the grant will be used to train additional EMS paramedics and EMTs. He plans to add five EMTs and two paramedics.
The funding will also help with training aids such as Narcan and Fentanyl test strips, a new lab top for the training room, and physicals and immunizations for the new members of the staff.
“I’ve done about $25 million in grants and this one is the hardest to administer. It’s a challenge to manage. This isn’t our first federal grant since we’ve had almost $500,000 in grant money.
“That one wasn’t as difficult. But it isn’t bad, there are checks and balances to make sure you’re doing the right thing with the money,” Bryant Sr. said.
Amboy was the only department who received SIREN for 2020-2021, one of two in 2021-2022 and one of three for 2022-2023 as Jersey Community Hospital District will receive $193,453 and Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services was approved for $200,000.
“Across Illinois, rural EMS agencies are first on the scene to respond to community emergencies, the opioid crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic. But for EMTs to properly respond to these emergencies, we must ensure they are equipped with the necessary supplies, training, and steady funding to support their operations,” Durbin said in a press release. “I worked hard to pass the SIREN Act to meet the needs of EMS agencies as they care for their communities. I hope to see today’s grant recipients put this federal funding to good use.”
Baker added that the funding also helps them with the rising costs of everything in society.
The ambulances and fire trucks get pretty thirsty and expensive when it comes to gas and its current price.
And without the vehicles, Duckworth knows first responders and emergency help is a lost cause.
“EMS agencies that serve rural parts of Illinois are often lifelines in times of emergencies and these first responders have been on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Duckworth in a press release. “I’m proud to help announce these resources to help ensure that the agencies administering these crucial services have the equipment, staff and resources they need to continue serving their communities.”