Secure AFG funding for your EMS agency

Give your agency the greatest opportunity for success when applying for any grant opportunities

With the 2011 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) quickly approaching, it is important to determine your agencies priorities for this year. While this is not the only source of funding out there, it does seem like the biggest opportunity for a lot of organizations. For EMS only agencies, however, it can seem slightly more difficult.

As previously discussed, since only 2 percent of the AFG available funding will be awarded to EMS only agencies, it is very important to make sure that you first prioritize your needs and then make absolutely sure that your application is complete and meets all of the requirements that are laid out in the AFG guidance document. An understanding of the priorities of the Department of Homeland Security with the AFG awards can insure that your organization will receive a higher level of consideration and a "higher competitive rating" when being reviewed for awards.

With such a competitive race and such great needs of many organizations, it is imperative that you give your agency the greatest opportunity for success when applying for any grant opportunities.

The DHS divides AFG into two categories for EMS only agencies. The first is EMS operations and Safety and the second is EMS Vehicle Acquisition. The first category is further divided into 5 areas which are outlined in last month's article or here. The "Non-Affiliated EMS Organization" segment begins on page 16 of the 2010 AFG guidance document and is outlined in the order that has been presented in these articles.

EMS personal protective equipment
As with the proceeding categories, training is an absolute necessity. Although it may not seem to apply as much to PPE, stating a plan for proper and effective training on all of the equipment acquired will help insure your organization's eligibility for your request.

The primary goals for any agency seeking funding for the acquisition of PPE should be #1: To become OSHA compliant and #2: To "protect the life and safety of the public and first responders". With these goals in mind, the highest consideration will be given to organizations seeking a first time purchase of PPE.

"Very high" consideration will be given to agencies attempting to replace "obsolete or substandard equipment." For old equipment, a score will be used that will give damaged, torn, or contaminated PPE a higher priority than gear that is worn but still usable. Also, equipment will be ranked by age giving older gear higher consideration.

Furthermore, a "high competitive rating" will be given to organizations with a large percentage of non-compliant active staff and organizations that might be able to bring their staff up to 100 percent compliance with this award.

Agencies with reserve equipment will be given less consideration as well as any agency that is attempting to fund a "new mission." AFG describes a new mission as an organization "expanding services into areas not previously offered". This lower level of consideration is due to the possibility of the unavailability of funding after the grant award period and the possible lack of need for that service in the future.

EMS wellness and fitness
First and foremost with the consideration of an EMS Wellness and Fitness application is that periodic health screenings, entry-level physical examinations, and immunizations are an absolute must. Any applying agency is required provide or plan to provide all three of these benefits to even be considered for funding. It will be important to make clear in the application process that your organization either already has these items in place or show a clear plan to use grant funding to provide these three benefits.

Once all of the above are in place or in preparation, the highest priority will be given to "candidate physical agility evaluations." Following this, lower consideration will be shown to formal fitness programs, injury prevention projects, behavioral health, rehab, and employee assistance programs (EAP).

Furthermore, applicants that do not have any wellness and fitness program in place will be given more consideration than those who are improving an existing program. In closing, the DHS states that "since participation is critical to achieving any benefits from a wellness/fitness program, we will give higher competitive ratings to organizations whose wellness/fitness programs mandate participation and are open to all personnel."

Next month we will cover the last category of the "EMS Operations and Safety" section which is "Modifications to EMS Stations and Facilities", followed by the second EMS only section of AFG which is "EMS Vehicle Acquisition."

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