The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) supports and promotes communications capabilities used by emergency responders and government officials across the country. In its efforts to advance interoperability, CISA develops the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), which is the nation’s strategic plan that establishes goals, objectives, and actions to enhance and improve interoperable and operable emergency communications. The NECP recommends improved planning and coordination across the Emergency Communications Ecosystem, including emergency medical personnel within the whole community.
To aid in NECP implementation, Congress authorized CISA to establish the Rural Emergency Medical Communications Demonstration Project (REMCDP) that leverages existing technologies and engages non-medical professionals to help establish or sustain statewide medical communications systems and use existing infrastructure to improve the delivery of rural medical care.
In 2016, CISA established REMCDP to work with a public health or medical facility to examine communications barriers and identify solutions that enhance existing emergency communications infrastructure. Following a competitive selection process, CISA awarded $2,000,000 to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) for its First Hands Program in September 2016. The First Hands Program combined medical and land mobile radio communications education with hands-on exercises to empower first responders providing medical aid in rural communities. UMMC’s many accomplishments, successes, and lessons learned are summarized in the FY 2016 Rural Emergency Medical Communications Demonstration Project Closeout Report.
In recognition of continued NECP development projects, Congress authorized a second round of REMCDP funding. After a merit review process, CISA awarded $2,000,000 to UMMC to expand its First Hands Program beginning October 1, 2018. UMMC used FY 2018 REMCDP funds to continue the First Hands Program to fulfill unmet course demand, develop a just-in-time training and operational vehicle platform for rapid deployment, and execute a refresher program for graduates of the First Hands Program. In addition, UMMC developed and is now offering a companion course for all Mississippi public safety communication personnel and dispatchers, entitled the First Voice Program. See the FY 2018 Rural Emergency Medical Communications Demonstration Project Closeout Report for more information.
Congress authorized a third round of REMCDP funding in 2020. Following a competitive selection process, CISA awarded $2,000,000 to UMMC to continue its educational efforts to improve rural medical care. During the period of performance beginning on September 30, 2020, UMMC continued to enhance the First Hands Program, First Voice Program, just-in-time training, and Mississippi Center for Emergency Services mobile application, as well as create new approaches for Tele-Training.
In recognition of the ongoing need for innovative solutions to improve the delivery of rural medical care and address NECP implementation gaps, Congress authorized a fourth round of REMCDP funding in 2022. Following a competitive selection process, CISA awarded $1,892,500 to UMMC to build on the success of its previous REMCDP awards, as well as explore additional technologies, including push-to-talk over cellular. CISA is also leveraging REMCDP funding to develop technical assistance offerings and assist rural communities across the nation to implement project successes.
CISA is applying REMCDP best practices to its programs and services, in addition to sharing lessons learned with other communities to serve as repeatable models for addressing rural population healthcare needs. To support this effort, CISA launched a technical assistance program entitled the Rural Emergency Communications Operations Rapid Assistance Package (O-RAP) to implement REMCDP successes in rural communities across the nation. See the O-RAP Flyer for more information and direct any technical assistance requests to your state or territory's Statewide Interoperability Coordinator.
Access to the REMCDP materials providing additional information on the grant are also available here: