EMS and Fire Service Recruitment & Retention Project

This project is made possible through a generous grant from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

The rural prehospital care system provides primary service to approximately 19% of Michigan residents, 1.85 million people, and 75% of the state’s land mass. The EMS system in many rural communities also must expand to meet increased needs during tourist and sporting seasons. In order to meet the demand for prehospital care, it is imperative that agencies operate with adequately staffed rosters.

This toolkit is useful in a variety of settings: EMS and fire services, both rural and urban, as well as law enforcement agencies.

In 2010, the Michigan Rural EMS Network conducted a statewide rural EMS survey. The results indicated that one of the greatest challenges faced by rural agencies is a shortage of rural EMS professionals. In FY 2015 the Michigan Rural EMS Network received a $35,000 grant from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to develop and distribute a 10 step assessment and planning toolkit, in order to help agencies increase the number of EMS professionals in their communities.

The toolkit was created to help EMS leaders identify best practices for recruitment and retention, and outlines a process that is based on a variety of best practice resources, including those from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the North Dakota Rural EMS Improvement Project, and the Virginia Department of Health. The toolkit is supported by an extensive electronic library.

The Michigan Rural EMS Network recognizes that many rural EMS leaders perform their duties on a part-time basis, and have limited time and resources to devote to recruitment and retention efforts. The toolkit is designed as a problem-solving method with two phases:

  • Phase I: Assessment
  • Phase II: Planning & Action

Depending on time available to devote to the recruitment and retention process, and available local resources, the implementation process can take anywhere from 3 months to a year to complete.

Using the Toolkit
The toolkit is available in an electronic version (see below), or in a printed version. To obtain a printed copy of the toolkit please contact us at or (989) 272-3290.

In order to make the toolkit easy to use:

  • The process is broken down into manageable steps
  • An electronic library is available, electronically below or on usb drive with the printed version, to allow for customization of materials for individual agencies
  • The entire toolkit is included in the electronic library, which allows one to print individual pages for committee/team meetings
  • A timeline tool is included in the electronic library so that custom timelines can be developed

Link to digital version of the Recruitment & Retention Toolkit:

R&R Toolkit

Link to digital version of the Instruction Guide and electronic library files: