By Jill Penley
The Johnson County Rescue Squad has been awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and loan to the purchase of a new ambulance for the department.
The award, which was announced earlier this month, includes a $50,000 Community Facilities Grant and a $110,000 Community Facilities Loan from USDA to finance the purchase, resulting in a total of $160,000 in funding secured from the federal agency,
“This is very significant for us,” said Jeff Young, Director, Johnson County Rescue and EMS, “especially since we rely almost solely on fees for service and receive no funding from the county nor the city.” Young also points out the department receives no income from taxation sources making this grant/loan even more fortuitous. “This investment will ensure the area has the resources necessary to keep residents safe,” Young stated.
The new ambulance, which is expected to be outfitted with up-to-date communications and rescue equipment, will be put into service as soon as possible. “We have five ambulances currently in service,” said Young. “The new unit will be an addition to the fleet but is essentially going to be taking up the workload of our two oldest ambulances.”
“Repairs of older units can cost thousands of dollars, and a small department like ours doesn’t have the money to do that,” said Young. Buying a new ambulance made more sense, and by securing a combination of grant and loan funds from USDA, Johnson County Rescue and EMS found an affordable way to make the purchase, Young explained. “It is nice that part of the purchase is coming from a grant, and part is from a loan that we’ll be able to pay for with money we make from emergency medical service billing,” he said.
The new ambulance will provide a safer, smoother ride for both our personnel and our patients, he added. “It is great to know we will now be able to purchase this new vehicle that will serve the community well for
many years to come,” Young said.
The Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program, which provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas, remains extremely important to areas like Johnson County as funds can be used to purchase, construct, and improve essential community facilities, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses.
The USDA considers an
“essential community facility” as a facility that “provides an essential service
to the local community
for the orderly development of the community in a
primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings.”