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Volunteer EMS: Responding to common excuses, criticisms

It's true – volunteer EMS isn't for everyone

By EMS1 Staff

EMS agencies are struggling to recruit and retain volunteer EMS providers. EMS volunteers, according to a report, answer close to half of the nation's 911 calls and up to 90 percent in the most rural states.

It's true – volunteer EMS isn't for everyone. Our Facebook fans joined the conversation, sounding off on common excuses preventing people from volunteering as EMS providers. Read their responses below, and let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Let us know what you think in the comment section below. (Photo/East Harlem Preservation)
Let us know what you think in the comment section below. (Photo/East Harlem Preservation)
  1. If you're good at something, never do it for free.
    Facebook fan Bob Soucy said a paycheck doesn't matter. "Putting the patient first and maintaining professional standards does [matter]," he said. "Most people can't do those things as a hobby. If you can do all those things and have a full-time job, go for it."
  2. If you volunteer, career EMS providers will never be able to achieve higher wages.
    Facebook fan Gregory Heath Roberts said that anyone who volunteers as an EMT or paramedic is hurting "the rest of us that actually do it for a living." Roberts questioned other fans, asking "why pay higher wages when people are doing it for free?" Facebook fan Cayla Crouch said she chose to volunteer because "I have a passion for this that I don't want to die. To each their own though."
  3. People choose to live in an area where they don't want to pay for professional services.
    Facebook fan Cynthia A. Handly disputed this point. "Our community in the Appalachians can't afford paid paramedics," she explained. "Should people die because they are poor?" Johnny Torres agreed, saying he's heard potential volunteers note, it's "their choice, let them suffer the consequences."
  4. Diversity isn't necessary.
    Facebook fan Jennifer Hodges said she was told that she shouldn't join her local department, because they already have enough women. "They currently have one," she said.
  5. Disabilities will sideline you.
    "I was told I shouldn't be in EMS because of my hearing disability," Facebook fan Kymmie Kay said. Another fan, Kevin Quant, said that wasn't a good reason. "I have a hearing disability and I've been rocking it as a volunteer EMT for three years now. I'm thinking of becoming a paramedic in the future," he said.

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