EMT Volunteers
What you need to know about running an Volunteer Agency

I have been both a paid and volunteer EMT. Many times in my career I was both. This page is not about the merits and pitfalls of either rather what it takes to run a successful agency. I have been an EMT since 1982. For most of my early career I was paid in and around the greater Philadelphia area. Since 1992 I moved to northern New Jersey and have been primarily a volunteer EMT. I have been both the cheif officer and the executive officer of a volunteer squad and feel I have some valid insights to managing a EMT volunteer agency.

I heard it once said that EMT volunteers consider what they do so important they do it for free. In reality there are many reasons for volunteering. Some volunteer as a stepping stone to an advanced career in EMS. I certainly started down this road. Others volunteer to give back to the community while others want the excitement.

As and officer I have to say I have had my share of excitement. My squad responded not only to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York but to Ground-Zero on 9/11/2001. On the other side I have spent many a countless hour in meetings helping to design the new squad patch, or coordinating fund raising or even collecting data from our call reports. Not very exciting for EMT volunteers but necessary none-the-less.

This page revolves around two major themes, what you need to run a volunteer agency and what you need to do as a member of such an organization.


Your organization is probably constructed along the lines of the fire service. You have a chief officer with some sub-ordinate officers. This command staff then oversees the operations of the organization. How many different jobs do these command officers have to oversee?

It is recommended that each officer take the Incident Management System courses offered by federal and local agencies. Also each officer should take the NIMS 700 level courses. Why do I mention this? Because all incident management systems recognize that the best commanders (managers) can only have a "Span of Control" of 5 to 7 individuals. This means that the Chief can only have about 5 to 7 people who directly report to him.

This means you need to have your sub-ordinate officers (captains, lieutenants, etc.) take on extra responsibility. What I have done is to outline a typical organization and discuss the functions of each position. Click here for an overview of an EMT Orgnnization


Most EMT Volunteers do not have any practical experience in running an EMT organization much less running an meeting. Running meetings require structure and advanced preparation. More often than not, the preparation for the next meeting begins as the last meeting is ending. To learn how to run a volunteer meeting click here


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