Bill would create $500M grant program to assist EMS agencies

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Tina Smith, would make funds available through a new program within the Health Resources and Services Administration

By Leila Merrill

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), introduced legislation on Wednesday that would establish a $500 million grant program to help EMS agencies with hiring, training, vehicles and equipment expenditures.

The EMS Staffing and Support Act would set up a program in the Health Resources and Services Administration to offer grants. Public, private, nonprofit, state, local and tribal organizations would be eligible to apply for the grants.

"We must address the funding crisis that fire departments and EMS agencies face," Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a statement. (File photo/Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

In February, Sanders introduced the Firefighter Staffing and Support Act, which calls for $12 billion to be funneled through the AFG and SAFER programs.

“EMS departments face many of the same challenges that fire departments do: high turnover, a lack of new equipment, difficulty hiring and training new recruits, and expensive out-of-pocket training. This means that already stretched-thin departments must do a great deal of work with limited resources. While fire departments have access to underfunded Federal grants for fire response, there is no dedicated funding for EMS. We must address the funding crisis that fire departments and EMS agencies face. That means we must significantly increase funding for our fire departments and we must establish a program dedicated to funding EMS,” Sanders said in a statement

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