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–And Skyrocket Your EMS Outreach Results

3 pens, 2 hats, 1 outdated calendar…

and 431 fans awaiting your arrival at the local YMCA ball field.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve worked EMS for any period of time, you’ve probably experienced this or something similar.

An opportunity to tell your EMS story to a crowd who really wants to hear it. A chance to develop lasting relationships with local EMS providers and the public you serve. A chance to showcase your services and maybe get more calls from people who need your help.


My Goody Bag Is Lacking

From the perspective of giving your fans something tangible, you feel like your goody bag is lacking. Really lacking…

You have nowhere near the resources needed to give each of your fans a token of your appreciation. Something to keep you top of mind the next time your services are needed.

Or do you?

The answer will probably surprise you.

Before I explain, I want to warn you of a crime that is about to be committed. A serious crime that hurts your EMS base’s chances of survival. A crime that puts everything you’ve worked so hard to obtain —at risk.

First, let me ask you a question.

Stuff Walmart Knows

Have you ever wondered why really successful and established brands advertise?

For example, why does Walmart advertise?

I mean, it’s Walmart, right? Everybody already knows about Walmart.

You’ve probably visited the store this week. If not, you’re probably about to visit. And this doesn’t make you unique.

Yet, Walmart advertises. A lot.


Does Walmart know something about outreach and marketing that EMS doesn’t know?

As it turns out, yes, it does.

Walmart knows outreach and marketing is a process, not an event.

It’s one of the reasons Walmart is so successful.

Stop Thinking of Outreach as An Event

EMS on the other hand, thinks of marketing as an event. And this event mentality is slowly killing EMS. Bases are closing. Services are dissolving. The list of “not good” goes on and on.

I know what you’re thinking.

But, but, but….

We’re not Walmart. And we don’t have Walmart’s budget.

I’m a paramedic, pilot or nurse, not a marketing and sales geek. Saving lives is my purpose, not marketing.

I agree lifesaving is your primary focus. But I think you’re kidding yourself about who does marketing in today’s EMS and air medical world.

Whose Job Is Outreach?

In today’s EMS world, everyone is responsible for outreach. Everyone has a message (and a responsibility) to share it.

It’s one of the reasons you’e wearing a uniform. It’s the reason your uniform displays the company or health system’s logo. It’s the reason your hospital’s name is 20 times the size of the helicopter operator’s name on the helicopter. It’s about the marketing.

Think about it. What are the real reasons behind air medical site visits and EMS outreach?

Is it really about keeping firefighters from walking into tailrotors? Yes, of course.

But it’s also about getting local providers to know, like and trust you. And to call you when your services are needed.

Here Is The Crime

The crime I mentioned earlier is event-only based marketing.

Why is event-only based marketing a crime?

Because of what it costs you, your base and your career over the long haul.

Let’s go back to our original story. We had the opportunity to keep in touch with potentially 431 people who would love to hear from us again.

But we didn’t do it. We just did your event and went home, right?

We were there for the event, nothing more.

In today’s world of closing bases and streamlining services, that’s a crime.

Anytime you interact with the public and they show sincere interest in learning more about you or your services, you should make it brain-dead easy for them to stay in touch with you. That’s what outreach is really about. Keeping in touch. Staying top of mind.

3 Ways To Do EMS Outreach Better

So how do you do EMS outreach the right way? And how do you do it on zero or near-zero budget?

For this article I’m assuming your EMS or air medical program is extremely budget conscious. Obviously, your results will vary depending on your budget.

Here are three almost free ways to do EMS outreach better and smarter:

1.) Leverage Social Media

You’ve heard of facebook, right?

Just kidding. I know you have. Here’s the point:

Social media is really popular right now. But just because something is popular, it doesn’t automatically become the best tool for your needs. Keep this fact in mind.

There are thousands of books about how to use social media for business and marketing. Most are worthless. Most companies don’t get social media and they don’t do it very well.

Here’s my best advice:

Pick ONE channel where you believe the majority of your customers visit. Remember that it’s not about you, or which medium you find easiest to use. It’s about the people you serve. Where are they? What social media platform do they use the most?

2.) Create an Unofficial Website

The two biggest challenges with social media are:

  1. You don’t own it.
  2. It constantly changes.

You can overcome both of these challenges with your own website.

Remember the purpose of the website is to keep constant contact with your fans and customers. To give your outreach efforts a central location to send people who want to keep in touch.

How do you do it?

The short answer is to pick a website platform with a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to change the content, and collect names of interested customers and fans.

I recommend Wordress. It’s easy to use and cheap to host. You can get decent website hosting for less than $10 bucks a month.

Not free, but a really cheap option for something that can significantly increase your EMS outreach.

3.) Start an Email List

This is the most powerful of the three techniques. Why?

Because it gives you the ability to keep in touch with people who want to hear from you.

You can literally do outreach from your desktop. Let your local providers know about your upcoming education events via email. Share the latest upgrades to your equipment or station. Personalize your messages and let your fans know you care. Make it about them, not you.

Email marketing software is fairly easy to setup and maintain, and you can get starter packages for free.

If free is your only option, I recommend Mailchimp. You can have up to 2,000 subscribers for free on Mailchimp. Once you go over 2,000 subscribers, a monthly fee is accessed.

Is It Worth The Effort?

One of the questions I routinely hear from EMS, air medical and other companies I advise… is whether or not outreach is worth the effort?

I always give the same answer.

Only if long term success and growth is important to you. Easy answer and completely true. Think back to the Walmart example.

Walmart doesn’t create social media campaigns, in store apps and websites for fun. Walmart does it because Walmart knows it works.

If you’re serious about your EMS or air medical bases’ long term success, you need to get serious about your outreach efforts as well. It makes a big difference.

In some cases it’s the difference between staying open or shutting the doors.

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Troy Shaffer
Troy Shaffer

About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

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