AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EMS Agency Leaders and Solving Rural Area Service Problems

A few years ago, Congress passed the Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs Act (also known as the SIREN Act). This important legislation focuses on serving the needs of EMS agencies in rural communities nationwide by creating a grant program to fund personnel recruitment, retention and equipment purchases.

The funding from the SIREN Act is not tremendous. However, it aids EMS agency leaders and rural communities that face personnel and equipment shortages – an issue that has increasingly become problematic in recent years.

While the SIREN Act’s grant is well-intentioned, like many other public programs, rural EMS agencies will need the right infrastructure in place to make the SIREN Act a success.  For instance, EMS agency leaders in rural communities will need more training in the best practices for personnel recruitment and retention.

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EMS Agency Leaders in Rural Communities Should Be Well-Versed in Best Practices for Recruitment and Retention

There is a lot that we understand about EMS recruitment and retention best practices based on social science research. Ideally, EMS agency leaders should be well versed in this knowledge.

For instance, EMS agency leaders should be aware that older adults can be excellent volunteers, according to Frontiers in Psychology. Understandably, EMS agencies tend to focus on recruiting younger people as volunteer first responders for their communities.

This disconnect, however, may contribute to the recruitment problems that many EMS agencies face. In fact, an unwillingness to use older volunteers might be one of the reasons why EMS agencies have recruitment and retention problems throughout the United States.

To fix ongoing issues such as volunteer recruitment and retention, EMS agency leaders need to change their mindset and pay more attention to best practices. Otherwise, EMS agencies will continue the struggle to properly staff their ambulances.

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Allison G.S. Knox

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at the University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison works as an Intermittent Emergency Management Specialist in the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. She also serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences, chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program and Assistant Editor for the International Journal of Paramedicine. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds five master’s degrees.

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