On December 12, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 369-47 to pass H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”).
H.R. 2 includes language from the Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act, a bill supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) that creates a grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for rural EMS agencies. The Senate passed H.R. 2 87-13 on December 11, and the bill now goes to President Trump to be signed into law.
The SIREN Act reauthorizes the Rural EMS Training and Equipment Assistance Program at $20 million per year through Fiscal Year 2023. Eligible entities include local and tribal government EMS agencies, as well as nonprofit EMS agencies, that are located in and/or serve residents of rural areas. Funds can be used to train/educate personnel, obtain/maintain licenses and certifications, acquire EMS equipment (including PPE), recruit and retain personnel, or develop new methods for educating emergency health care providers through the use of technology. Individual awards will be capped at $200,000 and grantees will be required to put up a 10 percent local match. Agencies will apply directly to the federal program.