NAUVOO -- Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, was in Nauvoo on Wednesday to meet with local first responders to discuss the implementation of Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs Act, which is also known as the SIREN Act.
The legislation, which was introduced by Durbin in May 2018 and had bipartisan support, provides new federal grant funding for rural fire and emergency medical service agencies in training and recruiting staff, conducting continuing education courses and purchasing new equipment, which can range from first aid kits to power stretchers to new ambulances to naloxone, which is commonly known as Narcan and is used to treat people suspected of overdosing on narcotics.
The bill was signed into law last year as part of the Farm Bill.
"In many small towns and rural parts of Illinois and across the country, rural fire and EMS agencies are the backbones of the community, and are on the front lines in delivering quality emergency response services. From responding to the opioid epidemic to treating the needs of an aging population, rural EMS agencies are being asked to do more but face workforce and geographic challenges in their communities," Durbin said. "I'm pleased to have passed the SIREN Act into law and am now working to provide the funding needed for rural EMS agencies to serve their communities."
Joining Durbin in Nauvoo was Mark Kennedy, a paramedic for the Nauvoo Fire Protection District and chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the National Association of EMTs. Kennedy advocated passage of the SIREN Act.