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Federal Assistance: A Guide to Education Resources for EMS

In recent years, the role of the feds in the training and development and intellectual armament of EMS providers has expanded dramatically. Government agencies now offer an impressive and growing litany of educational resources to supplement the schooling personnel get at their local and state levels. Much of this education centers around the Incident Command System and various WMD threats. Plenty focuses on the perils of pandemic and transmissible disease. Important elements concern things like multicasualty triage and bomb and blast response. More recently, the feds are even now helping teach EMS quality management.

The following overview covers some of what's available in the federal realm.


By now you know all about NIMS. The National Incident Management System represents an organized, systematic structure by which entities at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations and private-sector partners can work in coordination to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from incidents of any nature, size, location and duration.

The federal home of NIMS is within FEMA, which operates the NIMS Resource Center ( The site contains all a user can fathom on the system and its components, implementation, compliance and desired ends. It articulates a five-year plan, released in 2008, to establish an operational basis for NIMS training, as well as competencies, courses and qualifications. This plan defines the training needed for those responding at various levels to multijurisdictional events, and contains synopses of foundational courses like IS-100-IS-400 and the IS-700 series.

NIMS-compliant training is available from both the Emergency Management Institute ( and National Fire Academy ( The EMI offers broad content in areas like integrated emergency management, exercise development and evaluation, mitigation, readiness and disaster operations and recovery. It also features nonresident and distance-learning courses on a variety of fronts. The same is true of the NFA, part of the U.S. Fire Administration, and it even has an EMS curriculum. Components of that include management of emergency medical services, management of community health risks, advanced leadership issues in EMS, EMS special operations and advanced safety operations and management. This summer, the USFA will pilot a course on EMS quality management. See NFA course listings at

The NIMS Resource Center contains information on numerous Homeland Security grant programs that can assist departments in getting their people trained. For more DHS grants and related resources, see


Health and Human Services is the place to turn with questions about H1N1 and other diseases du jour, trauma and the medical aspects of terrorism. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is important to EMS, offering guidance in areas such as public health emergency response and crisis communications, but also under HHS are other relevant bodies like the CDC, NIOSH and more. All provide valuable educational resources.

Find a thorough compendium at sion/responders/index.html. That site rounds up HHS and DHS education and resources in the areas of responder safety and mental health; patient/evacuee mental health; and planning, preparation and response (the latter including chem, bio, radiation and mass-casualty incidents).

The CDC is the responder's main source for disease information--particularly, recently, H1N1, with a page for EMS that includes facts and patient treatment recommendations for the pandemic ( It has also developed resources like the 2009 National Trauma Triage Protocol and treatment guidelines for CBRNE hazards. For an overview, see its Emergency Preparedness and Response page ( NIOSH also maintains an Emergency Preparedness and Response page with resources for terrorism and natural-disaster situations, site management, PPE and more.

For funding opportunities, the main HHS grants portal is


Defining educational materials related to the EMS Education Agenda for the Future: A Systems Approach are collected at This is NHTSA's Office of EMS, the official federal home of EMS, and a site with which providers should become well-acquainted—it offers a wealth of information across every arena critical to our industry. Note its content on NEMSIS and the EMS workforce, and especially its comprehensive listing of federal agencies and offices with EMS responsibilities. This takes you on to key entities like the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and its EMS for Children arm and Office of Rural Health Policy (the latter of which has several reviews and reports pertinent to EMS); the FCC and public-safety broadband information; and the GSA's ambulance purchase standard.

The Office also maintains a handy link of recent publications, such as December's follow-up to the EMS Performance Measures Project, Emergency Medical Services Performance Measures: Recommended Attributes and Indicators for System and Service Performance, and a report on state EMS system pan-flu preparedness.


In the realm of communications, public safety providers should know the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. At its First Responder page (, the Bureau collects resources such as guidelines for emergency planning. Its Clearinghouse (http://public is a source of emergency, interoperability and continuity plans, case studies and best practices, grant information and more.


FEMA's Citizen Corps offers Community Preparedness webinars with partners such as the Red Cross. For Flood Safety Awareness Week in March, FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration produced an interactive flood impact map with searchable data about flood events and tips on what to do before, during and after one happens. FEMA also hosts, the Lessons Learned Information Sharing platform for responders to share outcomes and insights with each other.

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