While the fire service is the main focus, AFG allocates two percent of the available funding to non-affiliated, EMS-only agencies

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) process will be approaching us in the coming weeks. AFG receives a large amount of publicity and has an extremely large number of fire departments submitting applications for many different areas.

While the fire service is the main focus, AFG allocates two percent of the available funding to "non-affiliated", "EMS only" agencies. "Non-affiliated" is defined as "EMS agencies that are not part of a fire department or associated with a hospital" (according to 2010 AFG guidance document). If there is a transporting entity that is "affiliated" to a FD or hospital, they will need to seek funding in other areas.

A fire department can obviously apply as a FD, just not under the "EMS only" pretense. Hospitals can seek funding from many other areas including the ASRP Hospital Preparedness Plan and multiple other federal and state grants.

Furthermore, while allocating this two percent of funding, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also take into consideration the size of the population served and the call volume of the organization while prioritizing awards. Therefore, districts that protect large areas and populations with a high call volume will be given the highest level of consideration.

The two categories that are funded for "EMS only" operations by AFG are "EMS Operations and Safety" and "EMS Vehicle Acquisition."

The EMS Operations and Safety category is divided into five different areas:

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

All of the information being outlined here can be found in even greater detail at

Over the next few months, I will be going over each of these categories in greater detail.

EMS Training
This is a provision to train EMS personnel to the levels of first responder, BLS, ALS, Paramedic, HazMat Operations, and Rescue Operations. According to the 2010 AFG guidance document, the funding is not limited to the above; however, there are priorities and preference assigned to certain areas.

First of all, all equipment acquisitions have a prerequisite of training for the proper and effective use. Therefore, in the guidance document, it is stated that "organizations whose requests are more focused on training activities will receive a higher competitive rating than organizations whose requests are more focused on equipment." They will also give the "highest" level of consideration to agencies that are trying to elevate their personnel from EMT-Basic to EMT-Intermediate and a "high priority" to the EMT-Intermediate to Paramedic process.

Emergency personnel making the transition from first responder to EMT-Basic is the second priority, and EMT-Basic to Paramedic is a lower priority due to the time and cost commitment of the process. Seeking funding for the First Responder training would be unadvised because this is the lowest priority in this section of the AFG. Instead, consider bringing all personnel up to the EMT-B level or having EMT-B the entry level for your organization.

Also, there is additional consideration to agencies attempting to train a "high percentage" of their first responders. Therefore, AFG could be a great opportunity to bring an entire organization up to a minimum standard of EMT-B.

With the new curriculum this year concerning EMT-intermediates, this could possibly be one of the changes in the 2011 guidance document compared to the 2010 document.

As far as rescue and HazMat training, they are said to be a lower priority than medical services with regard to funding from AFG. However, if any of these are what an agency has a need for this year, they are still worth applying for without question.

EMS Equipment Acquisition
As stated in the EMS training section, training is of the utmost importance with any equipment acquisition. Any organization seeking EMS equipment will be given a "higher competitive rating" if their request is focused on training rather than equipment. In the guidance document it is stated "DHS believes that equipment is of no use if the operator is not trained to use it." Therefore, when applying for equipment, an organization should be able to show that their personnel are sufficiently trained on the equipment they are seeking, or they should show a training plan for all of their personnel for the proper and effective use of the equipment being sought after. Failure to take this seriously will not only result in unsafe use of your equipment and treatment of patients, but will also result in ineligibility for equipment funding from AFG.

The highest priority for equipment acquisition is given to agencies seeking ALS level capabilities. This needs to match the organization! If a BLS agency is seeking ALS equipment and they do not have a plan of becoming an ALS agency, they will become a low priority. BLS equipment will be the second priority, with rescue and HazMat equipment being third. As with EMS Training, the lowest priority is given to any first responder programs.

The DHS differentiates between "existing service," "new missions," and "new risks." The highest priority is given to "existing service," meaning organizations that are improving the service that they already provide and are established in. The second priority is "new risks" and is explained as a situation in which an organization is forced to address a certain risk that has presented itself in their existing service area. This could include large schools, new highways, hazardous buildings or factories, and potentially any new critical infrastructure that is created in that district.

The lowest priority is given to "new mission" applications. This is described as organizations that are seeking to expand their service into an area that they have not provided in the past. This could include rescue operations for a transporting agency, critical care ambulances, or funding for extrication equipment, for example.

Next month we will discuss "EMS Personal Protective Equipment" and "EMS Wellness and Fitness."

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