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 2019 NECP update 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 a demonstration project 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 the Rural Emergency Medical Communications Demonstration Project (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 is using 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.
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 two-year period of performance beginning on September 30, 2020, UMMC will continue and 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 TeleTraining.
CISA is applying REMCDP best practices to its programs and services, as well as sharing lessons learned with other communities to serve as repeatable models for addressing rural population healthcare needs.
Access to the REMCDP Notice of Funding Opportunity and supplemental materials providing additional information on the grant opportunity are also available here: