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In 2018 the Northern Michigan Fire Chiefs Association (NMFCA) and Michigan Rural EMS Network (MiREMS) began work on a project to assess the needs of fire and EMS agencies in northern lower peninsula of Michigan. The needs assessment consisted of analysis of data from the Michigan Fire Marshall, Department Profiles completed by management of fire and EMS agencies, and a First Responder Survey. Feedback on preliminary results and potential strategies was obtained through a variety of meetings. The Needs Assessment focused on thirty-six counties in the primarily rural northern region.


A total of 256 Department profiles were completed with 173 indicating service in the Northern Region. Of the 611 first responders who completed the Michigan Emergency Services Survey, 250 or 42% indicated that their primary service area was in the Northern Region. Topics covered in the Department Profile and/or surveys included recruitment and retention of personnel, training and education, emergency response related to the impact of mental health and substance use disorders, critical stress among first responders, quality assurance and improvement, and emergency dispatch.


In 2018 through shared leadership, the Michigan Rural EMS Network and Northern Michigan Fire Chiefs Association established a partnership to address common goals. The collaboration was based on three core beliefs:

  • Rural first responders have unique challenges
    Individual fire and EMS departments have limited resources and capacity due to low
    call volume and/or part time/volunteer personnel structures.
  • The link between fire departments and EMS is important to improving patient
    outcomes, reducing property damage, and increasing the health and safety of first
  • responders.


The Board of Directors of both organizations approved a joint needs assessment project in Northern Michigan that would assess a wide variety of challenges experienced by first responders in Northern Michigan. Due to the variety of topics identified for inclusion, MiREMS and NMFCA decided to combine two needs assessments into one process. This resulted in cost savings in conducting the assessment, and time savings for first responders participating in the



This needs assessment was conducted to address objectives of two federally funded grant projects serving the northern counties of the lower peninsula of Michigan:

  • SAFER Grant Program: The staffing needs assessment and report were funded through
    the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program, US Fire Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security. (Award EMW-2017-FF-00287).
  • Rural Healthcare Network Planning Grant: This report was supported by the Health
    Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $100,000 with 0% percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

About the Michigan Rural EMS Network

Michigan Rural EMS Network (MiREMS), a non-profit organization, supports EMS professionals and EMS agencies that provide prehospital care in rural Michigan.


MiREMS brings opportunities, events, resources, and technical assistance to rural EMS professionals and the companies for which they work.


Membership opportunities are available to any individual or agency, urban or rural, with an interest in quality prehospital care originating in rural Michigan.

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