USDA https://www.usda.gov has launched a new toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-connectivity in rural communities. According to the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, Anne Hazlett, “This user friendly tool will help rural customers find the many resources USDA has to support the expansion and use of e-Connectivity.”
The e-Connectivity toolkit features 27 USDA programs supporting broadband deployment. This resource enables customers to identify their type of e-Connectivity project with information provided on the locate resources that the federal government offers for planning, information on equipment and construction, research, plus information on other e-Connectivity projects, plus assistance in the form of grants, loans, and technical assistance.
To expand communications capabilities, USDA’s “Distance Learning and Telemedicine” (DLT) grant for $133,000 was awarded to Southern Tier health Care Systems Inc. in Olean New York to further deploy telecommunications by helping to train and certify emergency responders dealing with opioid overdoses.
The grant funds will provide certification training to rural Emergency Medical Service (EMS) agencies as well as community services agencies in Allegheny, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties including the Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department. The new telecommunications equipment will help EMS agencies operate since they have been so taxed by the opioid epidemic.
One of Southern Tier Health Care System’s initial training sessions for EMS will include the use of Narcan, a medication used to counter the effects of opioids. Another session will focus on preventing the misuse of prescription drugs including opioids by increasing awareness of proper drug disposal. Education will also be available to community agencies surrounding the sites.
USDA has published the Guide “eConnectivity@USDA Broadband Resources for Rural America”. The Guide published by the USDA Rural Development Innovation Center” lists USDA’s success stories.
Go to https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/508_RDeConnectivityToolkit121918.pdf to view the Guide. Go to https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants for information on USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) projects.