Ill. paramedic helps write bill to reform rural EMS across state

Paramedic Mark Kennedy helped U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin write the SIREN Act, which would reauthorize a federal grant program to support rural EMS agencies

NAUVOO, Ill. — A paramedic helped a U.S. senator craft a state bill that would help reform the rural EMS industry in Illinois.

The Herald-Whig reported that Nauvoo Fire Protection District paramedic Mark Kennedy and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wrote the Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act in an effort to reauthorize a grant program that supports training, recruitment and equipment funding for rural agencies.

"In communities in Illinois and across the country, rural EMS agencies are on the front lines responding to the opioid epidemic and treating the emergency needs of an aging population," Sen. Durbin said. "When Mark contacted me months ago, we talked about how we could solve the issues rural EMS agencies in Illinois face. We got to work and came up with the SIREN Act, a bill that will support the lifesaving work these rural EMS agencies are tasked with on a daily basis."

The bill passed the Senate as part of an amendment to the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 bill. The SIREN Act would allow up to 500 rural EMS agencies to apply for federal grant funding.

Kennedy said the biggest challenges for rural agencies are distance and hiring highly-trained staff members.

"In EMS, those challenges can be life and death," he said. "Senator Durbin immediately recognized the value of this act in a rural community."

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