The AAA is pleased to report that language we supported on grant funding for opioid protection training for first responders has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is now headed to the President’s desk.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act with a bipartisan vote of 98-1 in the last necessary needed action before being signed into law by the President. The impact of this legislation on the ambulance industry includes providing resources and training so that first responders and other key community sectors, including emergency medical services agencies, can appropriately protect themselves from exposure to drugs such as fentanyl, carfentanil and other dangerous licit and illicit drugs. $36,000,000 will be given annually for each fiscal year from 2019 through 2023. The bill also gives $10,000,000 in supplemental competitive grants to areas that have a record of high seizure of fentanyl to be used toward training of law enforcement and other first responders on how best to handle fentanyl as well as to purchase protective equipment, including overdose reversal drugs.
Lastly, the legislation allows the Department of Labor to award grants to states that have been heavily impacted by the opioid crisis in order to assist local workforce boards and local partnerships in closing the gaps in the workforce for mental health care and substance use disorder. Based on an analysis by counsel, we believe all ambulance service agencies would be eligible to apply for the described grants. It is encouraging to see both parties and chambers come together to pass legislation that takes steps to better our country as a whole and finally help address this growing public health emergency. The President is expected to sign the legislation into law.