Chester County’s first responder community is getting a financial boost from the Chester County Commissioners to help the fire, emergency medical services (EMS) and police organizations that have suffered the impacts of COVID-19. The $2.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Responder Organization Support Program will provide funds to cover equipment needs, to offset unplanned expenses related to the pandemic, and to restore revenue lost due to the cancellation of fundraising activities during 2020.
Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline approved a resolution at their October 29th public meeting, authorizing the Chester County Department of Emergency Services to administer the $2.5 million fund.
Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz said, “Throughout this pandemic, our first responders have remained focused on meeting the health and safety needs of all of our residents, despite the added dangers that COVID-19 has brought them, and regardless of the additional cost of PPE and cleaning supplies that they have had to face.”
The $2.5 million Chester County COVID-19 Emergency Responder Organization Support Program is funded from CARES Act funding acquired by Chester County government. The first part of the program covers Chester County fire and EMS organizations that are registered as a 501(c)3, that have a primary 9-1-1 response territory in Chester County, that have their main station located in Chester County, and that have been formed and in operation no later than December 31, 2019.
“Our first responder organizations have suffered financially during COVID-19 because of additional costs for their own safety and protection,” said County Commissioner Josh Maxwell, “But they have also missed out on fundraisers that are a significant part of their income and that are well-loved community events. We had to make sure they are compensated for these sacrifices.”
Specifically, the grant funds for eligible fire and EMS organizations can be used to cover unreimbursed working capital costs needed to maintain the organization during COVID-19 disruption including payroll, rent and mortgage, supplies, lost fundraising revenues and other COVID-19 expenses like hazard pay and PPE. Expenses must have been incurred during the period of March 27, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
A second part of the program, that meets the needs of Law Enforcement in Chester County, notes that eligible police departments must have a station or barracks located in Chester County and must have been formed prior to, and in operation no later than December 31, 2019. The Law Enforcement grants will provide each eligible police department and each State Police Barrack located in Chester County with specialized cleaning and decontamination equipment to address the threat of COVID-19 spread.
Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline added, “We remain extremely proud of our first responders – our fire, EMS and law enforcement officers – who helped to define the word ‘essential’ during this pandemic. When COVID-19 shut us down, they all remained going, knowing that emergencies of all types would continue, and would need a fast response. This action came at a cost, so it is right that we apportion some of the CARES funding to relieve that cost.”
Chester County’s COVID-19 Emergency Responder Organization Support Program is part of a major $31.7 million COVID-19 funding program approved by the Chester County Commissioners. It includes a $10.7 million COVID-19 Public School Grant program, $15 million in subsidies and grants for childcare support, and $3.5 million for the Restore Chester County: Nonprofit Innovation & Resiliency Fund made available to Chester County nonprofits.