WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced that three rural fire and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies in Illinois have been awarded a total of $381,091 in federal grant funding. This federal funding was created by Durbin’s Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act, which was signed into law in 2018. Today’s funding supports EMS agencies in responding to the opioid epidemic, COVID-19 pandemic, and other rural health challenges, including by training and recruiting staff, conducting certification courses, and purchasing equipment.
“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. That’s why I first introduced the SIREN Act and continue to work to provide much needed funding to our rural communities,” Durbin said. “Congratulations to the three Illinois agencies awarded today and I thank our first responders for their tireless work serving our communities.”
“Federal investments like these help Illinois’s dedicated rural EMS workers serve on the front lines in their communities,” Duckworth said. “First responders across our state need support to make their important work possible, and I’m proud to announce this infusion of federal funding alongside Senator Durbin.”
The following Illinois EMS agencies have been awarded funding:
Amboy Ambulance & Fire Protection District (Lee County): $116,432
Nauvoo Fire Protection District (Hancock County): $115,835
Jersey Community Hospital District (Jersey County): $148,824
Durbin helped to 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. Each year since the SIREN Act was signed into law, Durbin has led efforts in the annual federal appropriations process to fund this program.
In 2019, Durbin visited the Nauvoo Fire Protection District to discuss passage and implementation of the SIREN Act. He was joined by Mark Kennedy, a paramedic for the Nauvoo Fire Protection District and Chair of the Illinois chapter of the National Association of EMTs, whose advocacy efforts helped with passage of the SIREN Act.
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.