Letter — EMS volunteers have a love of community
I have been an active volunteer of Trumbull Emergency Medical Services for close to 25 years. In this time, I have seen our call volume surge as the demographics of our community have changed, going from 1,200 calls per year to our current levels which has us pushing 5,000 calls per year. While it is true that our volunteer staffing has gone down during this time, even if we had the same volunteer levels today as we did 25 years ago – that would not have been enough given our increase in call volume. TEMS has proactively found alternative venues to ensure that we have the resources to staff one, two or three crews around the clock to handle these calls and maintain the level of care that is expected.
I took exception to your story in the November 21st Trumbull Times which appeared to draw a correlation between our declining volunteer force and our handling the call volume in a cost-effective manner. Cost effective to who? What degradations have occurred? TEMS patient billings basically cover our operating costs and our patient care has never been better.
Statistically, TEMS is able to respond to 95% of all calls in about 7 ½ minutes – during those rare times when call volume exceeds our ability to respond (two or three calls at the same time), our neighboring communities are called upon to help out in Trumbull (as we do for them when their call volume exceeds their ability to respond) and if they are busy – a private service (like AMR) is called upon to ensure that all emergency situations are handled in an expeditious manner.
The changes that have already taken place that your article referred includes the retaining of EMT’s through a third-party staffing company where paid professionals are used to augment our volunteer positions during the busier shifts. Many of these paid employees have been associated with TEMS for many years and live or lived in our community. Having a 3rd party agency retained allows paid EMT’s to also volunteer at TEMS in compliance to the Fair Labor Standards Act from the Federal Government that states you cannot volunteer, and work (paid) at the same location.
Many organizations are experiencing declining volunteerism and have had to find alternatives to supplement their services. I hope that any changes that do come to fruition at TEMS do not change the spirit of our members (paid and volunteers) who have a love for our community and the people we serve.