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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.
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