Journal of Community Health

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 379–392 | Cite as

Rural emergency medical volunteers and their communities: A demographic comparison

  • Alexander M. ThompsonIII


This research compares the personal, household, and professional characteristics volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) providers in Ulster County, NY with those of the general population of this rural upstate county, using a survey instrument implemented by the author in conjunction with the 1990 U.S. Census data. A principal objective of this research was to identify the characteristics of these volunteers in order to support the recruitment and retention efforts of volunteer EMS organizations. Statistically significant deviations between these two sample populations include age distribution, maximum educational attainment, size of household, years in residence, type of employer, employing industry, occupation, household income, and commuting distance from work. Population differences for race, sex, marital status, household site, home ownership, housing costs, and in-county employment were not statistically significant. Additional data reported for the EMS volunteers include total emergency responses, active squad membership, length of service, level of medical qualifications, and intensity and nature of individual participation, age of recruitment, family involvement, tenure in the community, rates of household work participation, other volunteer activity, motivation, and receptivity to alternative incentive programs. The relevance of these data is interpreted with respect to the prospects for effective recruitment of volunteers, the level of commitment and retention of the volunteers, the degree of support which volunteers can expect from their communities, and the extent of cohesiveness and integration which volunteer EMS squads provide to their communities.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Freilich, DA and Spiegel, AD, Aeromedical emergency trauma services and mortality reduction in rural areas.NY State J Med 90:58–365, 1990.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.1990 Census of Population and Housing. These data were released to the author by the New York State Department of Economic Development in April, 1992.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stevenson, KA. Operational aspects of emergency ambulance services.Technical Report #61. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Operations Research Center. 1971.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Beck, DM, Help wanted.J Emerg Med Serv June, 1988:43–49.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gilbertson, M, The volunteer crisis.J Emerg Med Serv June, 1988:6–7.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Perkins, KB and Wright, T, Characteristics and survival potential of volunteer, nonprofit ems corporations. Blacksburg, VA: Center for Voluntary Development, 1989.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Thompson, AM, Volunteers and their communities: a comparative analysis of volunteer firefighters.Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 22(2):155–166, Summer, 1993.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Perkins, KB, Volunteer firefighting in the United States: A sociological profile of America's bravest. Report to the National Volunteer Fire Council. Farmville, VA: Longwood College, 1987.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Boucher, P, Volunteers are people tooJ Emerg Med Serv June, 1991: 12.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Swan, TH, Great expectations: what do ems volunteers want from management?J Emerg Med Serv February, 1991:47–49.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Becknell, JM, Wants, motivations, values.J Emerg Med Serv June, 1992:32–37.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gora, JG and Nemerowicz, GM:Emergency Squad Volunteers. New York: Praeger, 1985.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Perlstadt, H, Voluntary associations and the community: the case of volunteer ambulance corps.Journal of Voluntary Action Research 4:85–89, 1975.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Perlstadt, H and Kozak, I, Emergency medical services in small communities.J Community Health 2: 178–188, 1977.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander M. ThompsonIII
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsVassar CollegePoughkeepsie

Personalised recommendations