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Poll analysis: Are providers partial to working in their hometowns?

Every response area has its drawbacks, but all things being equal, what percentage of providers prefer to respond to calls in their own community?

By EMS1 Staff

“It seems to be the new “norm” for providers to travel away from their hometowns just to work. But does it have to be?” Hunter Whetzel muses in a recent EMS1 article.

In a recent poll, EMS1 readers weighed in on the topic; 61% of respondents said despite the potential cons of working locally, they prefer it. However, 27% of survey respondents said they can’t make enough money in the same role in their hometown, and another 10% said they are opposed to working locally due to the possibility they may respond to someone they know.

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There are many factors for providers to consider when deciding how close to live from their job. Is it better to live in the town where your agency responds or outside of their jurisdiction? There are pros and cons for both.

5 benefits for living within your EMS response area

  1. Familiarity with locations and landmarks. Being from the area, providers likely have a strong understanding of the local geography, side roads and culture, which could lead to faster response times.
  2. Understanding the community. Local EMS providers may have a better understanding of the community’s specific needs and health issues, which can help provide more tailored care.
  3. Trusted as a “local.” Patients may feel more comfortable and trust a provider who they know is from their community, which can assist in patient cooperation and comfort.
  4. Existing relationships. Providers may have personal connections with local healthcare providers, police, firefighters and other first responders, which could facilitate more efficient and effective coordination.
  5. Deeper community investment. Individuals who work in their hometowns may feel a stronger sense of duty and commitment to their community, potentially leading to a higher level of care.

5 drawbacks to living within your EMS response area

  1. Potential for emotional involvement. There is a higher probability providers may respond to emergencies involving friends, family or acquaintances, which could be emotionally challenging and potentially impact their professional judgment.
  2. Privacy concerns. In small towns, maintaining patient confidentiality can be more difficult, as word of incidents can spread quickly.
  3. Burnout threat. Being constantly surrounded by their work, even during off hours, can lead to higher stress levels and burnout.
  4. Lack of work-life balance. It can be difficult for providers to separate their professional and personal lives, particularly if they are often recognized or approached about work-related matters in their personal time.
  5. Potential for favoritism. There might be unintentional bias in providing care or allocating resources, especially in situations involving friends, family, or well-known individuals in the community.

Do you agree with the majority of respondents that it’s better to work for EMS in your hometown? Or do you prefer some separation between your work and home life?

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of FireRescue1.com and EMS1.com. In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.

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