1. #1

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    Default Recruiting & Retention

    First off, I apologize if this has been discussed before.

    A brief background on my agency: We are a Volunteer Ambulance Corp. that runs ALS from 0630-1630 Monday-Friday. We were a part of Middlesex Fire Department until the late 60's when we split off and became a private organization. Our EMS district covers 4 1/2 rural fire districts that is mainly farmland. We have about 6-8 active Medics/Drivers that are regulars on the scene. About 20 years ago, we started a staff lease with a neighboring ALS Company, recently bought out by the hospital. We switched providers and now contract with a commercial agency that provides us 1 ALS tech Monday-Friday.

    I am in charge of recruiting & retention and have a significant budget to work with, in fact (not being snoty) money really is not an issue for our corp, mainly because a good portion of our district is lake front properties. As I mentioned above, we have about 6-8 of the same people taking all the calls and I am worried because about 50% of the regulars are old enough to be my parents (I'm 24) and they are getting to a point that they want some of the younger folks to take over.

    I was looking over the roster and the call logs of who has responded over the year and I am trying to implement an incentive system for the members. As I was designing this, I realized that perhaps I should be focusing on recruiting before I go all out on retention. It's cheaper to retain a member than it is to recruit, but my problem is, I really don't have alot of members TO retain. A really big problem that we run into is, most of our members are also Firefighters including myself. If there is a structure fire, I will be inside the house and obviously unable to stand by an ambulance. What is also happening is, we share a roster with our neighbors to the North (Gorham), so we are pretty much interchangable. At 12:00, I could be driving for Gorham and at 2:00, I could be back in Middlesex.

    Your thoughts, suggestions or comments?

  2. #2
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    While many of the folks that run with our local independent ambulance squad are firefighters, many had never worked in emergency services before joining. We trained 'em up and many of the originals are still with us.

    Recruitment - go to the media. Emphasize that "we'll train you." Tell them what you expect, and what they can expect.

    Retention - We've tried to set up a hierarchy - recognition for time and expertise. It's still in development, but shows promise.

    Involve them - Even a non-EMT can set up an IV set, hand up meds from the med box, or document with proper training. Once they get their hands dirty, they may want to go on for more formal training - we've run a lot of folks through basic EMT, and a fair number have gone on to higher levels.

    Reward them for their time and effort. A t-shirt or work shirt may not seem like much, but it makes them part of the team. First aid kits, windbreakers and top-of-the-line jackets make suitable rewards for appropriate levels of experience and hours of service.

    Consider an Explorer or Junior program. They aren't always easy to run, but a number of our Juniors have gone on to bigger things through the years.

    Treat 'em all to a banquet (on the squad) once a year. Give out recognition.

    We do keep a medic in-house 24/7 with volunteers as drivers and additional staff. On-duty crews are in-station - they don't respond from home.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ewilliams6208 View Post
    As I mentioned above, we have about 6-8 of the same people taking all the calls and I am worried because about 50% of the regulars are old enough to be my parents (I'm 24) and they are getting to a point that they want some of the younger folks to take over.
    Don't discount us old people....

    Heck, to be old enough to be your parent would make them 40 or older? I realize you may think we need walkers and all, but some of us actually can make it on a call - as long as it does not interfere with our bathroom schedule.

  4. #4
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Thumbs up Well..........

    LVFD, I think that he means closer to 50. And I know how he feels, in a way. 19 months ago, I called it a day on being a Chief, and went back to Driving. The Heavy Rescue was my choice, because I like that kind of work. 2 weeks ago I was drafted out of retirement to serve as a Chief Officer for another year. Not what I had planned, but when a majority of the members asked, what else could I do? I see a similar thing here, except that we do have a group of younger folks, most of whom are very promising. Regardless, Recruiting Viable people to come in and learn from the ground up, should be a continuing effort, as well as devising adquate retention measures as well......


    ewilliams - You're pointed in the right direction, Good Luck.........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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  5. #5
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    I love seeing all the volunteer firefighters posting here. Almost appears that the gap between career and volly is almost gone now.

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    What do you offer folks, and I'm not talking about money or incentives.

    I'm talking abou the intangables.

    Personal challenge. Being part of a team. Learning new skills.

    Look at your agency and decide what you offer folks who may join. Decide where the people are in your community that may be looking for what you offer.Decide how to get thier attention by designing a message that will appeal to them. Deliver the message to where they are.

    Basically market your organization to a tearget audience with a message that will get thier attention.

    Example: Identify ex-military as members of the community that may enjoy, based on thier military history, working as part of a team. Find out where they are in your community. Develop a message that advertises the team aspect of EMS such as "Teamwork. With us, it's an everyday thing". Now
    target that group with that message.

    An example we use to appeal to those who are thrill seekers and want a challenege: "Fire. Smoke. Heat. Interested?"

    It's all about figuring out what motivates folks to join EMS or fire. Locate them. Design a message. Market your message.

  7. #7
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Thumbs up And.........

    I don't have the url, but a Search should get you the online listing for the National Fire Academy's Publications. there are a Couple of Books on Recruitment and Retention. They are Free, mailed to your Dept........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  8. #8
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Wink Huh??.....

    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post
    I love seeing all the volunteer firefighters posting here. Almost appears that the gap between career and volly is almost gone now.

    It's almost gone??....... Dang, we'd better get to work on that......
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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