Shawnee County to consider initiating grant program to aid first responders

By Tim Hrenchir
Topeka Capital Journal – April 17, 2017

The Shawnee County Commission Monday will consider putting in place a process to help pay training and equipment costs for fire departments that provide first-responder emergency medical care.

The measure would arrange for the county to provide grants to meet those needs using money it receives through fines and penalties from American Medical Response, its ambulance service provider.

“So often our resources suffer from scarcity of funding and this grant process gives them an opportunity,” said Nelson E. Casteel, the county’s ambulance compliance officer.

The proposal to adopt “policies and procedures for first responder grant funding” is among items on the agenda when Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler meet at 9 a.m. in their chambers in Room B-11 of the County Courthouse, 200 S.E. 7th, according to the meeting agenda.

Fire departments in Shawnee County respond to scenes of ambulance calls to provide first-responder emergency medical care to people who need it until AMR arrives.

AMR’s contract with the county requires it to pay fines when it fails to meet requirements outlined in the agreement, including failing to respond to calls within specified periods of time.

AMR’s fines and fees totaled $2,200 in 2016, $1,450 in 2015, $1,070 in 2014 and $790 in 2013, Casteel said this week.

He said penalty and fine money the county received from AMR was placed in its general fund from 2006 to 2015, then moved beginning last year to a special revenue fund being developed as part of a new contract between AMR and the county, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Commissioners voted last October to place all fine money received in 2016 in the special revenue fund, Casteel said.

“The intent of the contract provision was to help the first responder agencies to purchase equipment or training to meet their mission essential functions,” he said. “Because the monies are being turned into Shawnee County, however, there has to be a method and criteria to release any monies back out. That is what/why the new grant process is being formulated.”

The five-year contract that took effect Jan. 1 calls for AMR to receive an annual subsidy from the county of $350,000. Casteel said the county’s subsidy to AMR previously was $632,798 in 2016, $757,798 in 2015, $857,798 in 2014 and $1,057,798 in 2014 and 2013.

The new contract also requires AMR to meet more provisions and parameters, and requires “significantly harsher penalties for missing or not passing,” Casteel said.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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