As an EMS officer, you may belong to a national or state EMS organization. Why did you join these organizations? Was it to network with other EMS officers, or was there some other value or benefit? Are you a member of a local or regional EMS Managers/Officers organization that promotes EMS? If you are a member of an organization, how active are you?
In 1727, Benjamin Franklin persuaded 12 of his friends to form a club whose purpose was to increase their mutual improvement. They called this group JUNTO, and they met one night a week to discuss topics related to the events of the week. The group continued for 40 years and eventually became the core of the American Philosophical Society.
JUNTO, pronounced “who-n-toe,” was a private forum for discussion and used as a mechanism for leading public opinion. Discussion revolved around morals, politics and physics. Each member was challenged to remain positive during their meetings and was required to write two essays designed around the discussion topics. These essays would then be reviewed by the other members.
While most EMS managers don’t have the time (or probably the passion) to meet once a week with other EMS managers, the concept is one that is noteworthy. In several areas of the country, EMS organizations, like that of the JUNTO, have members who regularly get together and meet to discuss significant EMS topics and issues that are relevant to their organization or their region.
I would make the recommendation that if you don’t have an EMS organization that meets on a regular basis you being the leader you begin work to establish one. Some general guidelines to help you get started include:
Begin with contacting other EMS managers or supervisors in neighboring agencies, and start the discussion about the development of a local or regional EMS organization. You can check within your state to see if there are any other areas that have similar organizations that bring EMS managers /officers together in a formal organization.
Determine how often you want to meet. Most organizations hold monthly meetings that don’t take up too much time from your work schedule. Some organizations hold breakfast or lunch meetings to attract members who don’t have time to plug in another meeting into their schedules.
Look at developing a basic set of bylaws to govern your organization to help your meeting have some structure. Robert’s Rules of Order can help get you started, or contact other similar EMS managers/officers groups for examples of their bylaws.
A dues structure and methods of fundraising will enable the organization to fund projects, or at least provide some doughnuts and coffee for your meetings.
Unlike the JUNTO, which restricted their membership number to 12, your organization should be open to every EMS manager whose agencies interact with each other on a local or regional basis. Most managers don’t need extra meetings every month so this should be one that is important and provides valuable information and networking.
The new EMS organization needs a mission and a purpose. The JUNTO’s mission was the mutual improvement of the members. Your mission will probably be more altruistic, whether it is to provide a forum for networking with other EMS managers to exchange ideas, policies and procedures, or to enhance training opportunities.
The meeting should encourage active participation by its members and a forum for problem sharing and solving. Members with questions or problems can solicit help from other members on ways to address their issues. This is especially true for new managers or officers, as it gives them an instant contact list of people to call if they have questions or need help on a particular problem or issue.
These organizations can lead to greater regional coordination for disaster/MCI planning, exercises and drills. Members who are more familiar with each other work better together and create a better atmosphere of cooperation. There may also be opportunities to develop regional training classes or to develop a local conference.
For more than 10 years, I was a member of a regional EMS managers group. We met once a month to discuss current EMS issues, network and work on improving the levels of EMS within our own departments by obtaining information from other EMS officers. When I became an EMS officer and joined my local EMS group, there were several officers with experience whose guidance and advice helped me learn the ropes of EMS supervision and gave me a passion for working with other similar officers on a local, regional, state and national level.
So while you probably won’t, or shouldn’t name it JUNTO after Benjamin Franklin’s group, it is important to get together with other EMS managers/officer to promote EMS and to make it better. Organizations like these contribute greatly to that effort.