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Americans Should Support 911 Volunteers

Updated on October 7, 2016

Volunteerism has been a time old tradition and the tradition to volunteer goes back centuries in America. Even today some of the most iconic organizations that we can think have started out as all volunteer companies. You might think of the Red Cross, or the Boy Scouts, or something along the lines of Habitat for Humanity. Nothing however emphasizes the spirit of volunteering more so than the 911 provider; those who go above and beyond to serve their communities. This article is precisely about these volunteers because too many in this nation fail to understand or realize just how much our nation depends on volunteers to uphold and operate our 911 services. This article addresses the strain the economy is putting on these departments, the need for greater visibility, and the pivotal role the community can take to support and increase the productivity of these valuable resources. Volunteerism in the Emergency Services is one of the things that make us America and this nation needs its volunteer 911 providers more now than any other time.

I feel I'm qualified to address this topic based on my experiences and past history. I have been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) since I was 16 years old. As soon as I got my certification I joined up with the volunteer ambulance department in my small rural (but property wise huge) community. Little did I realize these men and women would become my second family and would guide me into the man I am today. I became a paid EMT and I worked for years in EMS, eventually obtaining National Certification (NRMET), and even going on to enlist in the US Air Force for four years - still when the dust settled I came back to my volunteer ambulance department to once again give my time and services. Through them I became a CPR Instructor and an advocate for CPR. Today I stand among them as a full member, even as I work towards a degree, as an EMT and an online administrator.

This article is about why you should support your local volunteer 911 departments, why you should consider becoming a member yourself, and why these departments depend on you to operate and survive in this world. Just as you depend on these services they in turn depend on you. It’s a situation of true community spirit.

Where Can You Find Volunteers

Volunteer 911 providers are in every state and every territory. They provide many different services and can be found in a variety of roles. The National Fire Protection Association suggests that just over 69% of all fire fighters in America are volunteers and NAEMT suggests that of over 15 thousand ambulances services over 22% are staffed by volunteers. This of course doesn't recognize the many other volunteer services that have not had studies done on them such as Auxiliary Police Office, Fire Police, and Canteen Truck members. The way one volunteers in this grouping matters and each role supports another.

While you are more likely to find volunteer 911 services in the more rural or suburban areas of America it is not without merit noting that many city companies offer such roles as well. For the rural and suburb areas of America volunteer services offer the chance to cut taxes, give the community members a sense of purpose and ownership of the community, and to save on the costs generated by a paid department. The bigger cities in America tend to opt to paid 911 services because it means dedicated providers are always available; while volunteer companies never know when people can or cannot give time. The paid departments often still allow for volunteers to save costs and to keep alive the service of volunteer 911 providers in America. Some notable paid departments with volunteer corps are the NYFD, Washington DC Fire, and Boston Fire to name a few.

These companies can be found in all 50 states and provide basic services a community depends on; Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Police and Auxiliary Police Services, and even administrative duties such as Volunteers who inspect and install smoke detectors and run DARE / Anti-Drug programs in our schools.

The Threat to these Services

Like everything in our nation it seems that money and people are the keys. These volunteer services depend on the communities they serve to operate. The funding they receive in part from your taxes and the city through grants go towards vital functions such as equipment purchase, equipment maintenance, vehicle maintenance, responder training, and even recruitment drives within the community. The people who dedicate themselves to the service and keep it in operation do so out of a love of the skills they gained and a love of the community they serve. Without money and without people the department cannot run; without only one of these things will lead to the lack of the other. There are plenty of volunteer stations shutting down and you certainly do not what your community to be among such areas; some recent closing have been South Pymatuning Township Fire, Two Rivers Volunteer Rescue, and Hernando/High Point Fire.

The community must endear themselves and donate to the volunteer departments if they wish for good services. While people seem to think that such services are provided and should be provided for free the fact is such organizations are costly to maintain and keep in working order. It costs even more than you would expect to maintain a paid 911 department; which is why many areas prefer volunteer if they can be managed. The people need to be vigilant of their community services and inquire how they can help. Consider this - when you donate to any charity they put most of your donation into the salary of the personnel who work there and a fraction of it into the actual cause. When you donate to your local 911 department the money is completely put into the cause and personally affects you and your neighbors. In addition to all that a well funded fire department can cause your property tax to go down via the ratings of insurance companies who rate the area where you live. So there is a lot to consider when giving away charitable funds.

In addition to money the 911 departments need people to volunteer their time and services. A lot of people just don't realize what these sort of departments need. Just because you are inquiring at a volunteer ambulance department doesn't mean you have to be an EMT. Most departments can use people in the office, to help with equipment, and even receive services from local businesses to aid them (eg: such as a mechanic who does the routine maintenance on an ambulance). Without people volunteering their time a department has no way to function or run. Just like a business a volunteer company still has pay taxes, still has to prepare for government inspections, and still has to put services on the street when dispatched. Volunteering is fun, interesting, and can often provide experience for those looking for experience or just something to get out of the house. I strongly recommend you try it. Your best bet to finding a place to volunteer is to call or look at the website of your local Fire, EMS, Fire Police, or Auxiliary Police unit and seeing what sort of people they need.

Types of Volunteer 911 Providers

Type of Volunteer
Role in the Service
Where To Find
EMT / Paramedic
Ambulance / EMS
Ambulance & Fire Departments
Fire Response / Inspection
Fire & Rescue Departments
Fire Police
Provides Traffic Control
Fire & Police Departments
Auxillary Police
Provides Supplementary Law Enforcement
Police and Sheriff Departments
Canteen Truck
Feeds Fire/EMS at Fires
Red Cross / Municialities
Search & Rescue
Wilderness Search/Rescue
EMS and Fire Departments

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