Getting ready for AFG 2013: Grant writing success

Prepare to distinguish your EMS agency for next year's AFG and for grant funding in general

After taking a big sigh of relief following our completion of AFG 2012 grant submissions, I must say I am truly impressed by the teamwork and efforts of EMSGrantsHelp. Its dedicated and exceptionally talented team works to provide free access to thousands of grant sources and assistance in grant writing.

EMSGrantsHelp represented numerous non-affiliated EMS providers vying for Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program funding this year. AFG is offered by FEMA to provide funding support for first responders. This program is invaluable for public or private nonprofit emergency medical service organization(s) providing direct emergency medical services, including medical transport, to a specific geographic area on a first-due basis, but is not affiliated with a hospital and does not serve a geographic area where emergency medical services are adequately provided by a fire department.

The following tips will help you prepare to distinguish your EMS agency for next year's AFG and for grant funding in general:

Show how you make an impact.

Document everything. Grant reviewers are reading thousands of applications. Facts speak volumes. Get credit for past acts to credibly make promises for the future.

Community events: Do you know how many medical standby assignments your crew staffed this past year? How many people participate in the health fairs, blood pressure checks and flu shot events where your EMS personnel offer their services? How many patients did you care for on-scene during large-scale events?

Translate those facts into credible and persuasive arguments in favor of your application, i.e., find out the average cost of an ambulance transport, an ER visit and two days in the hospital.

If your illness and injury prevention efforts or standby care prevented even .5-1 percent of an actual ambulance transport, ED/and/or hospital stay, how many dollars might that represent?

Solicit and collect "thank you" letters from these events. A nice quote from an actual event organizer or charitable organization might be what distinguishes your service from your competition.

Interagency relations: Be ready to list how many fire departments you regularly respond with. Document how many healthcare agencies you trained with over a year. How many interagency drills have you participated in? Do you collaborate with local colleges or universities? Do you meet with hospital and/or nursing home staff to discuss quality assurance? Do you conduct firefighter rehabilitation at MCIs?

By documenting the answers to these questions, you can better quantify your investment in developing these relationships and the value of your offered services. Break down your past acts of in-kind service into man-hours and then into dollars.

Calculate your investment of goodwill and your sincere desire to work within the true EMS system. Those arguments are likely to stand out for grant application reviewers who have hundreds of them to consider.

EMS operational budgets and audits: It is not realistic to ask for considerable funds without being able to demonstrate your organization's strict attention to developing and maintaining meticulous financial strategy, adherence to operational budgets and successful results. So take time to show your financial plan and implementation strategy. Communicate how you will measure your success as a result of grant funding. Devise a plan for how you will report on your implementation and what you will continue to do to sustain your success.

Prepare to post a powerful presence for your EMS organization.

You have to ask yourselves if the grant application reviewers will see your brand of EMS as distinctive and special. The equipment looks the same, and the protocols and requirements to provide service are highly regulated.

Your organization's people are the real distinguishers. Who is caring for others through the leadership, culture and values set by your operation?

While we want everyone we serve to trust all care providers in our organizations equally during emergency response, we want our people to stand out when we are vying for grant funding.

Maybe your medical director animates your organization's mission with aggressive medical protocols and unrelenting standards of care. Or perhaps your organization's community involvement touches many more people than those who would actually receive ambulance transport. At the very least, be ready to supply bios and credentials for your organization's leaders.

With these tips, you'll be a step ahead in readying your organization for the next round of applications: AFG 2013.


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