Home Innovation Leadership Training Helps Public Safety Managers Recruit Volunteers

Leadership Training Helps Public Safety Managers Recruit Volunteers


By Allison G.S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Public safety agencies are having trouble across the country retaining volunteer members.

In some areas, it is difficult to staff ambulances without volunteers. One Pennsylvania volunteer ambulance association was forced to close its doors due to a lack of volunteers.

Society’s ideas about volunteerism have changed. So it is important for leaders to consider a variety of things to do to recruit volunteers and to retain them once they’ve agreed to work without pay. Specialized leadership training for those in managerial positions is one way leaders could learn how to find and retain volunteers.

As McGill University professor Jay Conger writes in his article Inspiring Others: the language of leadership, “Leaders need to be strategists and need to articulate a message that is motivational.”  If an individual is willing to volunteer for an organization, its leaders need to motivate those volunteers to continue to give their time freely. Learning how to inspire others is not easy, and is complicated because all individuals are different and they will have different motivational needs.

Public Safety Budgets Are Already Tight

Leadership training can be expensive, which in turn creates budgetary problems. Public safety budgets are often very tight. In many cases budget cuts will only make a bad situation worse. With that said, it can be difficult for public safety organizations to pay for leadership training. But in the long run, leadership training might just be the factor that keeps volunteers returning to a station to work in their spare time.

Specialized Leadership Training

A tremendous amount of information about leadership is available, but it is difficult to sharpen leadership skills simply by reading about them. For fast-paced individuals in public safety, workshops are investments into retention efforts for volunteer organizations.  There are great workshops that would be particularly helpful to public safety officials including The Leadership Challenge Workshop and Dealing with Difficult People Workshop.

It is easy to think that leadership training is unnecessary because public safety volunteers are simply glad to give of their time. Specialized leadership training can help leaders inspire others and keep them returning to volunteer.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.