NorthStar EMS (NEMS) is in the business of helping people when they need of help. Traditionally this means providing emergency and non-emergency medical care and transportation. There are over 3,000 homeless individuals within our community (Birmingham, AL) that will go hungry during the holiday season.
While there are many local resource centers, the NEMS’ Team partnered with the Jimmie Hale Mission to coordinate an annual food drive simply called “Drive Away Hunger” during the Thanksgiving holiday. The Jimmie Hale Mission provides over 175 meals per day in its shelters and over 400 additional meals to seniors and shut-ins. Their philosophy is that when a person is feed, it opens the door a “life-saving” experience. It was this philosophy in mind that so embraced our mission to “provide personalized and professional care to our community” that served as the basis for our partnership.
While it was clearly our objective to collect as much food as possible to help the Jimmie Hale Mission, we knew that we could not do this alone. We decided to do something different and exciting. We decided to invite our competitive EMS agencies in the Birmingham, AL area to help us out. We challenged our competition to see who could fill up the back of an ambulance(s) and deliver the most food to the Mission.
1. Identify a local resource center that could use food donations to impact the community.
2. Obtain a commitment from the local EMS services to participate in the food drive.
3. Look for other possible sources of food collection, i.e., nursing home and healthcare partners.
4. Work with local media to promote and report on the program.
5. Focus attention to the Jimmie Hale Mission for the work they are doing in the community.
6. Shine a positive light on EMS in the community.
Planning & Implementation
Upon partnering with the Jimmie Hale Mission, it was important to establish a date and time that food items would be delivered.
- NEMS issues a formal challenge to our competitor EMS agencies.
- NEMS’ Director contacts counterparts with each agency to explain the intent of the program. It was during this call that commitments to participate are secured.
- Notifications are made to the NEMS Team and food collection sites were established.
- NEMS to communicate with Nursing Home and other healthcare partners to determine participation levels and to set up food collection sites.
- NEMS periodically touches base with each agency to ensure that no obstacles for participation had developed.
- COLLECT FOOD!
Week prior to Thanksgiving:
- NEMS notifies each agency as to when the food is to be delivered to the Jimmie Hale Mission.
- Date/Time established for all EMS services to meet at the NEMS staging area.
1-Day Prior to Event:
- Press Releases sent to media. Personal media contacts made.
Day of Event:
- Staging – all ambulances lined up to leave in a procession.
- Personnel sent to Jimmie Hale Mission to ensure media is located in the right area to capture footage of ambulances arriving with red lights and sirens.
- Confirm all ambulances are running with RLS. Confirm all is a go with onsite personnel.
The project takes approximately 2 months to execute appropriately.
All goals were achieved.
While the Drive Away Hunger campaign is set up as a competition between EMS services, the fact of the matter is that there is NO LOSER! Everyone WINS by participating in this event.
1. Collected food is donated to help feed the homeless.
2. Positive media for the Jimmie Hale Mission and EMS.
3. Positive relationships with competitor EMS services.
4. Satisfaction that we made a difference in people’s lives.
NEMS first began our “Drive Away Hunger” campaign in 2008. Last year marked our 10 year anniversary in coordinating this event.
This program has truly become an annual event. Everyone enjoys participating in making a difference in people’s lives. Witnessing the amount of food collected brings a certain degree of satisfaction of doing good for the community. It has a positive impact on our Team knowing that they helped contribute to a worthy cause.
This program is all about providing the personalized care we talk about in our mission statement. This program allows our EMTs and Paramedics the opportunity to provide a different type of “patient care” during the Thanksgiving holiday that helps meet the physical and spiritual well-being of others.
Total hours required:
6 hours prep work
3 hours for actual event.
Project coordinated and worked with salaried personnel. No additional payroll.
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