Why Highway Safety Programs are so Hot for EMS Funding

By Rachel Stemerman, EMSGrantsHelp; Reprinted with permission

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has made a concerted effort to steer funding to EMS and fire-based EMS agencies, particularly when it comes to data-driven initiatives focused on motor vehicle and public safety.

In an effort to increase national safety and accident prevention techniques, the federal agency is encouraging EMS funding in priority areas such as occupant protection, injury prevention, safety initiatives, and public education at the state level through State Highway Safety Offices.

This isn’t purely charitable — NHTSA has made it clear that EMS agencies have the ability to contribute valuable data to reduce deaths and injuries on the roadways, plan efficient responses, and focus training and education to master skills that will best meet the needs of the public.

The transition to Mobile Data Terminals and other evidence-based technology is being used to achieve the best outcome for injured motorists and to make continuous improvements in emergency medical care.

According to NHTSA, “perhaps one of the most important uses of EMS data is to prevent injuries from happening in the first place, by analyzing how, where, and when certain injuries occur and developing countermeasures to prevent the crash.”

Programs that have been funded

EMS agencies and offices all around the country are acquiring funding to contribute to this NHSTA initiative.

Minnesota’s EMS office obtained NHTSA funding to analyze and improve data quality that will help provide a roadmap for improvements in the state ambulance reporting system and ultimately lead to a reduction in fatalities.

Alabama acknowledged a critical issue in response times to crash scenes and a resulting major increase in traffic deaths. With NHTSA funding, they created a Strategic Highway Safety Plan that identified and organized performance data, made improvements to communication systems and volunteer training, and provided air coverage for rural areas.

Most of these initiatives were done on a large-scale, state level; however an abundance of funding is available for local projects. For instance, the push for data has lead to an increase in funding for equipment such as MDTs and PCR software.

MDTs in particular have been placed on high priority due to their ability to provide information that can assess response times and outcomes. This information can help allocate resources to the time and place of highest demand.

The technological advances in PCR software can create a cohesive data system for an entire state that allows for EMS data to inform others about the effectiveness, quality, and impact of pre-hospital care.

NHTSA is willing and has previously funded this equipment and projects that have stemmed from this equipment through State Highway Safety Offices and the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Initiatives to focus on

Additional projects that EMS agencies can acquire funding for include priority areas such as occupant protection and injury prevention.

Collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics has produced a push for child passenger safety in the form of Car Seat Fitting Stations. EMS agencies nationwide are heavily involved in becoming Child Safety Seat Technicians, producing permanent Car Seat Fitting Stations and community outreach events.

Prevention of injury on the roadways has been a major concern for NHTSA since its inception. Certain state offices may deem driver training simulators and other apparatus eligible under this funding a priority as well.

For more information or funding opportunities check out the Highway Safety and EMS Connection web site or your state Office of Highway Safety.