Question for anyone who is currently on a volunteer ems organization. A person applies to the squad and becomes a member who was a member on a neighboring squad for 15 years. They tell you they left the other squad for "personal differences". None of the Officers check with the other squad if this is so, they take her/him word for it. Now this person wants to run for the office of Chief on your squad. You find out that she/him actually was expelled, voted off her/his previous squad and she/him can never reapply again. You tell Your Officers, they do nothing. Should this person be allowed to run for the "Top" position of the squad? Note: she/him dosn't live in the town she/him wants to run for office in, has only been a member for alittle over 1 year.

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Our company has a policy that you have to be an active member for 3 years before you can run for office. That helps to prevent this type of thing--in 3 years you will generally see a person's true colors.
Oh, you are so right on! The buddy system is what plays out in so many volunteer squads. They all want to be an officer and nobody wants to spend any time volunteering to cover shifts. We made a mistake to get people on our squad by paying volunteers, but the newer people are into there own thing and still don't want to spend time running squad. They just want the prestige of having a title and saying they belong to a rescue squad. Oh and don't forget wearing our logo and having the lights and siren syndrome. About the fellow running for chief. We do have a 3 year limit on membership, but unfortunately you don't need to be anything more than an EMT to hold office. Some people are still very good leaders as EMTs but those who made it to there position because they were a brown noser----Shame on you! You do not help your dept. only yourself. I agree with the statement that maybe this guy was doing the right thing and the buddy system threw him out: however, we had a person on our dept. who came on from another squad which would not say anything about the person. We found the person to be causing all kinds of problems in our dept. once securely there for a year. Things have be better since that person left.

Chance Gearheart said:
Dolores, this is a major problem I have with volunteer departments. The whole system of an "election" for officers. These people who are elected to positions may not have the qualifications necessary for a fire officer, and often times they are friends of the department who are promoted to the position because of such. Professional departments require things such as time, training, and promotional tests to be sure a person is even remotely qualified for their position. Now, some volunteer departments do this, and it avoids a lot of trouble, but the election system, in my mind, is responsable for the attitudes of stagnation and irresponsable/unsafe behavior of a lot of volunteer departments. Leaders and bosses are going to, for lack of a better word, piss off other members in doing their job, and they need to be able to do so without worrying about their position because they upset someone's "buddy".

You can only do so much to influence the election, and the only option you have is to make sure to maintain a close watch on this person and try to ensure that proper disciplianry channels are followed. At the very worst, you may have to quit should you feel that your safety or professiional licensure is threatened.

I came from a volunteer fire department where, thankfully, our district was blessed with experience people who knew what they were doing, and did a great job at it. However, other districts often refused to work together, at the detrement of patient care and safety, often elected unqualified and poor leaders because they were "buddies".

I would love to see a nationwide or state-specific definition of the actual job descriptions of officers in a fire department, with a minimum training level they must have, and experience level necesary to hold these positions. I don't think an EMS or Fire Lieutenant should be someone who just graduated EMT school.

Also understand that everyone has a story when it comes to disciplinary action, and what is told by an employer may not be the whole, or the truth; and vice versa the same is true. However, any squad should approach a person with such a history with a measure of caution while also not alienating the person. For all you know, they could have been a whistleblower who was kicked out for reporting something.
I also am a volunteer firefighter, and without taking up additional space, I'll just say dido to chances first paragraph.
Dolores, I would first look at your company By-laws and see what they say about "qualifications, time served requirements." I am hoping like many other places there is a membership length for officers. I know at my volunteer fire company it is 5 years for chief and 3 years for any line officer under that. Another thing to look at, is this person well liked in your organization. If the guy isn't well liked, you probably don't have much to worry about. Also, volunteers tend to be very gossipy. At least in my area anyhow. Ask around why he was expelled if you can get that and maybe put some bugs in peoples ears if it is something bad. It may just be as simple as a conflict of personalities. I have seen that one happen before.

And to those that think being a volunteer BLS provider isn't prestigious. Well, that is all in the eyes of the beholder. Do you think it isn't prestigious because its "BLS" or because it is "volunteer." Either way that is the wrong way to look at it. I believe everyone that serves in this profession, whether compensated or not holds a prestigious position. We all do the same job and for the most part are held to the same training standards. Yes, sometimes the "vollies" don't have as much experience as the paid guys, but I have found many that are just as good, if not better practitioners than any paid guy/gal out there.
Earl Culvey said:
And to those that think being a volunteer BLS provider isn't prestigious. Well, that is all in the eyes of the beholder. Do you think it isn't prestigious because its "BLS" or because it is "volunteer."

D. People who go into medicine at any level (first responder through physician) for prestige are going into medicine for the wrong reason and are idiots. This includes the EMS wackers who spend more money on lights and sirens for their POV than they spend on their education.

A far as my view on the effect volunteer organizations has on EMS, we already had a mega thread on vollies, and I have no reason to restate my position on them. I'll probably just be called a terrorist by them again anyways despite even the JEMS volunteer columnist essentially admitting that my views held a lot of merit between two of his columns (volunteers do it for the lights and sirens and volunteers are one of the reason why the required level of training is so low).
asysin2leads said:
Okay, this has to be New Jersey. Absolutely has to be. No other place on earth considers it to be prestigious to be part of a volunteer BLS service.
People will take pride in anything that makes them feel special, and I think helping people (however you define it) certainly counts, though some people don't even need that high a bar. Hell, people will take pride in accomplishments that aren't even theirs--I'm living smack in the middle of Steeler Nation and work a couple blocks from its Ground Zero (Heinz Field), so I see that every day (and more on game day).

Next time you're on the eastern seaboard, let me take you through PA. In addition to the BLS ambulance prestige, we also have people who are quite proud to be FFs--despite the fact that some of them are not even certified and have collapsed water mains at several fires in a row. (The real kicker: one of the guys who volunteers there works for the township's water authority as his real job.)
asysin2leads said:
BTW, how do you collapse a water main? Cause water hammer, I assume?
I actually thought it had something to do with our somewhat older pipe system not being able to flow water as fast as the engine could pump it, and actually getting negative pressure in the line, but I can't say for sure as I wasn't present for any of them. EMS is 3rd service there so even though my wife was around for 1 or 2, she wasn't anywhere near the pump control panels.
First off, in this day and age why in the world do agencies whether paid or volunteer put anyone on their department without first doing a background check including checking with other agencies that the prospective member may have worked/volunteered for.

I completely agree that there should not be elections for officers in an emergency services organization. I feel that the chief of the organization should be appointed by the governing body of the jurisdiction, and the chief should appoint the other officers. I also feel that the other officers should be appointed based on a combination of experience and ability.

I get so sick and tired of the entire volunteer vs. paid crap. I work as a full time paramedic and I also volunteer at a fire/ems department where everyone is required to be at least an EMT B. We are also a provisional paramedic service. The bottom line at least in my area we get the same training and sometimes better training at my volunteer department, than we do at my paid service. I know that this is not the case everywhere. I thought that the emergency service was supposed to be a brotherhood but apparently it isn't anymore. You are only a brother if you get a paycheck and you are a paramedic? I think that is complete crap. I can say with complete confidence that some of the best paramedics I know are on volunteer services. But then again this is small town IA/ IL.

Lastly, I think part of the thing that turns us against each other is the armchair quarterbacking that goes on. Unfortunately it has happened in this thread. I don’t mean to pick on you dr-exmedic but you come on here alluding to how some volunteers are idiots because they collapsed a water main. I don’t know your background, but from your original post I had thought that maybe you were on a combination fire/ems department. Come to find out from your second post that you are not really sure what “collapsing a water main” is and you weren’t even there when it happened. I am not sure if you are aware of all of the responsibilities that the pump operator has at a fire scene and until you are the one standing in front of the pump panel, I don’t think that it is fair for you to judge someone else and even so you were not there. Everyone reacts differently under different circumstances and as long as the reactions are reasonable with what other people with the same training would do under like circumstances the reaction isn’t necessarily wrong.

Sorry for the long post and rant but this always gets to me. I just wish that we could learn to work together no matter what our certification card says or whether we are doing it for free or for a pay check.
Eric said:
The bottom line at least in my area we get the same training and sometimes better training at my volunteer department, than we do at my paid service.

See, having 'the same training as the professionals' isn't the issue when the training is kept low because of the volunteers. How would the volunteers react if our entry level required 2 years of education like what is seen in Ontario, Canada?
Maybe I am not seeing this clearly but how can in your eyes low training standards be blamed on the volunteers?

Joe P. said:
Eric said:
The bottom line at least in my area we get the same training and sometimes better training at my volunteer department, than we do at my paid service.

See, having 'the same training as the professionals' isn't the issue when the training is kept low because of the volunteers. How would the volunteers react if our entry level required 2 years of education like what is seen in Ontario, Canada?
I asked first, but I'll answer anyways. Why is it that every single discussion on education has someone bring up the 'trouble recruiting volunteers?" Heck, I'll pull up a quote from this very message board.


Paula said:
So far, from what I've read here, you have all succeeded in eliminating volunteer EMS/ambulance services in our country. Now what? Who will provide emergency care to our small towns and rural areas? I believe in having a standardized system, but let's not forfeit care for credentials.

Dana Love said:
Part of that is sensible education. (See, it's not off track.) Sensible education requirements, and a system which accommodates distance learning, different times of day, weekend training, and the like...works.


(If I do the National Health Services Corp and work in an under severed areas, I don't get a special medical school schedule or shorter education than any other physicians...)

Joseph Moore said:
The rural EMS people and the volunteer EMS people have enough problems staffing their rural and/or volunteer agencies with the minimal training levels that are are currently determined, some on a county basis, others on a a state basis. The needs of rural communities are definitely different that the needs of urban communities.

http://connect.jems.com/forum/topics/what-if-you-decided-the

...and that's just through page 3 of 12 on a single thread in a single forum of volunteers complaining that the 110 hour standard was too much to handle. As such, the volunteers act as a brake that prevents EMS from requiring such sensible education requirements as a college level anatomy and physiology courses or series.
Yeah, there IS a difference between rural and urban EMS. Because response, patient access, and transport times are longer, rural areas require BETTER medics than those who have a hospital right around the corner. If this was a rational world, instead of a political one, the standards for rural medics would be MUCH HIGHER. The "save the volunteers" movement is just standing in the way of developing a competent alternative to what exists today.


Joe P. said:
I asked first, but I'll answer anyways. Why is it that every single discussion on education has someone bring up the 'trouble recruiting volunteers?" Heck, I'll pull up a quote from this very message board.


Paula said:
So far, from what I've read here, you have all succeeded in eliminating volunteer EMS/ambulance services in our country. Now what? Who will provide emergency care to our small towns and rural areas? I believe in having a standardized system, but let's not forfeit care for credentials.

Dana Love said:
Part of that is sensible education. (See, it's not off track.) Sensible education requirements, and a system which accommodates distance learning, different times of day, weekend training, and the like...works.


(If I do the National Health Services Corp and work in an under severed areas, I don't get a special medical school schedule or shorter education than any other physicians...)

Joseph Moore said:
The rural EMS people and the volunteer EMS people have enough problems staffing their rural and/or volunteer agencies with the minimal training levels that are are currently determined, some on a county basis, others on a a state basis. The needs of rural communities are definitely different that the needs of urban communities.

http://connect.jems.com/forum/topics/what-if-you-decided-the

...and that's just through page 3 of 12 on a single thread in a single forum of volunteers complaining that the 110 hour standard was too much to handle. As such, the volunteers act as a brake that prevents EMS from requiring such sensible education requirements as a college level anatomy and physiology courses or series.

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