Pain and misery were postponed for ten days. Dr. Tooth found a bit of infection in my gum, so I am obliged to participate in 10 days of antibiotic therapy. Oh, well. At least I got to eat normally last night.
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One of the topics that we have been covering occasionally is that of volunteer fire and EMS recruiting problems and successes. Unfortunately, the problems have been way outnumbering the successes lately. Recently, TV Channel 4 in Dallas, Texas, ran this news item about the dwindling numbers of volunteer firefighters in the communities north of the city:
I am in disagreement over what they are claiming their problem is, though. True enough, their membership numbers are down. And it’s happening all over. But ….. are they properly identifying their real causes for it? Unless you know just what the problem is, you cannot take remedial action to overcome it.
Early in this tv clip the narrator says flatly that membership is lacking “because of the economy.” I think that is a lame excuse. We are hearing the economic situation taking the blame for all kinds of failures, some accurately and some like this one, just being a convenient scapegoat. I have seen several other dips in the economy before, a couple of times even worse than this. But it usually doesn’t affect volunteerism at all. If anything, it picks up as people have more time at their disposal and they seek out less expensive ways of using it. Not to mention the obvious need to step up a little and help out in many different ways.
The vol. chief that they interview is right, however. The younger generation isn’t showing up like previous generations did. I believe that there is a cultural shift lately where young people are not being taught by their elders the importance of helping others and instead are wrapped up in themselves more than was usual in the past. If you can’t encourage them to think about helping their neighbor, then how about playing to their narcissism and convincing them of the rewarding self-satisfaction that is earned by doing something that is both good and “entertaining”?
Another item that caught my attention in the video report was the situation in one of the VFD’s where they say that their active membership dropped from 12 to 3 in just one year. Now call me cynical if you wish, because I am, but a massive defection like that didn’t come about because the price of groceries has gone up. There’s something wrong going on in the internal affairs of the department to cause that to happen, if it did.
Not every volunteer fire/EMS company is having these problems, though. Just over a year ago we posted an article about a vol. fire dept. in upstate New York HERE that had a waiting list of applicants so large that they had to change their by-laws to allow for an increased membership roster. The secret is finding out the real reason why people aren’t showing up to sign up, and then targeting that cause. Next week I hope to bring you a couple of success stories of VFD’s that are having successful recruiting drives. And if you have a success story to share also, send me an email telling me about it.
Now let’s get this equipment checked out. I need to get the coffee started.