Reports & Resources

Building Organizational Agility in Fire & EMS Agencies

This report is part of a continuing leadership series developed for Best Practices in Emergency Services. It shows leaders of emergency medical services (EMS) and fire departments how the concept of organizational agility can be applied in their agencies. Organizational agility originated in the context of flexible manufacturing and later emerged as a business model in service industries and healthcare. Researchers from diverse disciplines approach organizational agility from a variety of perspectives. Most agree that when organizations are not agile, they become less effective and “fragile,” or susceptible to factors that can impair their ability to survive.

Chief Concerns: Preparing for Scrutiny

Scrutiny. It may arrive at your doorstep in a variety of forms and perhaps when you are least prepared to deal with it. Increased scrutiny could arrive in the wake of questionable performance, like when a victim dies after a delayed response to a fire. It could be the result of a probing investigation by the media during budget debates. Perhaps your agency is in the middle of a contract negotiation that raises the level of interest in its internal operations. Or the heightened scrutiny could come even with the arrival of a consultant that you or your supervisors invited to appraise and advise the agency. As the Fire Chief—think of yourself as the CEO of the department—you cannot afford to be surprised or ill prepared for any of these events.

Chief Concerns: Community Risk Reduction

Good fire chiefs understand the importance of assessing risk in their communities. But the most progressive chiefs are actively working to reduce that risk by implementing Community Risk Reduction programs. They are shifting their stance on risk from reactive to proactive—all in the name of better service to their communities.

The New EMS Imperative: Demonstrating Value

Despite a tremendous diversity in how emergency medical services (EMS) are provided in municipalities around the country, most U.S. EMS systems share one commonality: They remain primarily focused on responding quickly to serious accidents and critical emergencies even though patients increasingly call 911 for less severe or chronic health problems.

Breaking through the Shadows

Six steps to address caregiver suicide & improve mental wellness
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