I work for an agency that is half paid and half volunteer I’ve been a member now for over two years and I was very skeptical at first having only experienced straight volunteer or a commercial agency. I will say that I was surprised at how well it worked the volunteer crews here are held to the same standards as the paid crews. Volunteer duty crews are expected to wear the same uniforms and operate from the station with a fully checked, clean, and prepared ambulance. I won’t say that there aren’t issues sometimes but then again even with the paid staff some of the employees can be challenging at best.
Tonight however I was very put off by a volunteer who I was working with as a partner. My partner had started shift at 19:00 I didn’t start until 00:00 our first call occurred while I was still changing from one uniform to the other. The entire time that we were on the call they did nothing but complain about all the homework that they had to do and the exam that was due at 07:00 that they needed to complete online at the station. The agency that I work for is by far the busiest in the county… The fact that we were going to have calls and that we had multiple units operating and back to back calls was not a surprise or slim possibility.
As it turned out when the EMT began to get upset when we needed to refuel the truck at the town pumps because of the homework and not having time to do it that a bunch of other issues came up. The ambulance was never checked and when I returned to the station discovered we were very low on oxygen and that we were missing a collar bag which was required to have aboard. When I asked them if they had checked the truck the answer was no and that they weren’t interested, didn’t have the time, and they weren’t going to do it, let alone fix the problems with the truck as needed.
The point that I’m trying to get at is that if you’re a volunteer you choose to be there. You signed up to do something for the community and whether you’re getting paid to or not it’s not fair to your patients, your partner, or the other volunteers if you can’t do your job like you’re supposed to do it. Nobody put a gun to your head when you signed up to do the shift, you asked… So if you don’t have the time to dedicate to it and to do at least the minimum required stay home.