NVFC’s Launches Weekly Survey to Document Volunteer Emergency Services’ COVID-19 Experiences

On March 20, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) created a survey to better understand the experiences of volunteer and combination fire, EMS, and rescue departments dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19. We will be updating and re-promoting the survey every Friday for the foreseeable future. It only takes a few minutes to complete the survey, and we encourage respondents to re-take the survey each week so that we can track changes over time. Take survey now.

Based on information provided in the survey to this point, answer choices related to responder mental health, morale, fundraising, and junior firefighter programs were added to the survey on March 26.

Survey Results

Between March 20 and March 25 there were 161 survey completions from individuals belonging to all-volunteer (71%), mostly-volunteer (24%), and mostly career emergency services (5%) organizations. 71% of respondents reported having been adversely impacted by COVID-19, compared with 29% that have not.

Respondents were asked to indicate areas where they were experiencing challenges:

  • Running low on personal protective equipment (PPE): 72%
  • Staff unwilling/unable to respond: 48%
  • Run out of PPE: 34%
  • Can’t get new personnel trained/certified because EMS education processes are frozen: 30%
  • Challenges getting personnel tested for COVID-19: 18%
  • Personnel in quarantine: 9%
  • Struggling with increased call volume: 7%
  • Other: 23% (the most common “Other” response was that fundraising is more challenging because community events have had to be cancelled)

Respondents were also asked to rate on a scale of 0-5 (with 5 being the highest) areas where they need help most urgently. The average ratings were as follows:

  • Supply/resupply of PPE: 4.5
  • Guidance/resources to help keep responding personnel safe: 3.7
  • Supply/resupply of other (non-PPE) resources: 3.6
  • Better information from PSAPs regarding potential exposures: 3.2
  • Need more personnel: 3.0
  • Guidance/resources to help with quarantine: 2.8
  • Access to testing: 2.6