Durbin pushes for federal help for rural EMS during visit to Flanagan

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin co-sponsored the measure included in the farm bill now in a conference committee. (Photo courtesy Dick Durbin)

By Greg Halbleib and WMBD Staff

FLANAGAN – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin used a Livingston County stop to push his bill to keep federal money flowing toward rural emergency medical services.

Durbin visited the Flanagan-Graymont Fire Protection District station in Flanagan Wednesday to outline his Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs, or SIREN, Act. The measure is an amendment to the farm bill which passed the Senate in June.

Durbin said the measure will help rural districts which have a difficult time affording equipment and training.

“We know we have to compete on a national basis for the funds once this is enacted into law and I’m sure that our people will be ready to do that,” Durbin told news partner WMBD-TV. “They have told me that they will be and that is the future of this once it is enacted into law which I expect to happen very soon.”

Durbin said rural first responders are dealing with issues that were rare for them just a few years ago.

“Many of the first responders here and emergency medical people are facing overdoses, and I would imagine the volume of that has increased in our state as it has across the United States,” Durbin said. “We want to have them on the scene as quickly as possible literally saving the lives of people in that situation, so that makes the immediacy of this very apparent.”

The farm bill along with the SIREN Act are before a conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions.

Greg Halbleib can be reached at greg@wjbc.com