I am a new Chief of a volunteer rescue squad in SC. We have 16 members on roster, with about half of them being semi-active. When I first joined, a few years ago, I was always eager to participate, but now it's almost come to begging people just to cover events or answer every call. The county provides an incentive check once a year and the amount depends on how many calls that member responded to. Is there any other way to boost moral and involvement? Any help is appriciated.
Did the slowing of involvement start before or after you became Chief?
What is the response district that you cover? Rural? Sub-urban?
What is the population?
What are the demographics of the area you cover? aging population, younger population, long commutes, etc
What is the level of your service? First responder, EMT-B, EMT-I, etc
Who pays for training of new members?
Does the dept/county pay for continuing education?
Who handles billing?
I get the incentive check notion, but an annual stipend is a long time to accrue hours/committment without reward. Why not shorten such pay incentive to quarterly?
What kind of events do you cover? Are these stand by for private functions? If so, do the sponsors pay for that coverage? If so, where does that funding go?
I get the challenge you face, but I don't think there is really any easy answer. The true volunteer rescue squad is becoming scarce and in reality, if your members receive even an annual stipend, they are paid on call. Part of the reason you don't see true volunteers is that the world of EMS has become more litigant driven and accountable, meaning too many lawsuits and laws to cover. Why set yourself up to such damaging potential for free? That is a lot to ask from members. Furthermore the education requirements and so forth demand more from members and that does impact the life of people you are asking to do this.
So I find that the county providing an annual incentive to be too little and too long to wait. Give people a reason to be more involved, shorten the time frame of compensation. If the service isn't providing the education and training requirements, they should be.
When it comes to covering events, in reality, the cost of coverage should be paid for by sponsors requesting the service. Such coverage should not be provided for free, because the service still has to be able to handle ordinary calls in conjunction with the event, which means more people. If the sponsors are not paying for this, then the service is getting screwed. If they are paying, then who pockets the money? The service, the county?
We provide EMS for many different events and typically those events are overtime based for our members. While the pay received for the event comes from the city, the city itself is not paying those costs. Instead that OT cost incurred is paid for by the sponsors of the event. Yet, even with OT as an incentive, we still have times when enough people can't sign up and personnel are ordered in. Just shows that there is difficulty in any aspect out there.
Overall though, you are asking a lot from a person to do such service for little compensation. One can only mention the community dedication bit so far before one starts to feel the community just wants their service and could care less about the impact they are making on the volunteer's life. In the world of EMS, there is so much more at stake that you are asking people to put their licensure, lives, and livliehood on the line for free or minimal compensation. Personally I don't think an annual county incentive check will cut it.
Agreed John, These are all the reasons i don't became a EMT.
I had a similar problem when I became president of a firefighters association. the department was combination covering a suburban/light industrial area
Build a team of like minded members who see what you see and find out how best to fix it. In house monthly raffles of items (for a buck) worked for me until I asked wives what "they" wanted their hubbys to bid on. I ended up raffling off spa and nail salon trips in addition to restaurants and tool shops (I bumped those up to 5 bucks) but a fully paid for meal which got the wife out of the kitchen was still a value.
Member recognition: top responder, most training hours, thousand run club, most improved, recognition of their family members that achieve academically
Kyle had a good one, a 25 buck gift card to wally mart goes along way and in my neck of the woods, half off to Disney (you need a loan to go there now) goes along way
I guess finding out what was working before and trying to get that back is the real trick
The truth is sometimes members prevent other people from wanting to belong. Look at your membership. You have 16 members and 8 that are really active. What do the other 8 do? Why do you even keep them on the roster? Maybe people see those slackers and think why belong to an organization that doesn't enforce any membership standards?
People don't want to belong to groups that they believe have a bad image. They want to belong to professionally run organizations that look good, perform well, and instill a sense of pride, ownership, and belonging. I am a firm believer in cutting deadwood loose and I have been trying to get the chiefs of my 2 POC FDs to do that. One is finally going to cut some loose and open up their slots for others. Truth be told though even if no one fills those slots for months we are no worse off than when they were on the department.
Good luck, and I am not insinuating any of what I said above holds true for your FD, but often those problems lead to the membership problem.
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