Volunteer Labor: Understanding the True Cost of Doing Business

There are three parts to ever story – a beginning, a middle, and an end. Likewise, there are three parts to running an ambulance service (humor me here); clinical staff (beginning) patients (middle) and administrators (end). This comparison is over-simplified, but the point is this – whether you are a 5-person volunteer service or a 5-state ambulance service, it takes the same basic things to operate. When it comes to cost data collection and ensuring organizations like CMS understand the true cost of doing business, we need to make sure we are sharing our individual stories in the same way.

Full-Time ambulance services can likely report the cost of doing business relatively easily. They can run reports on the number of FTEs they have, how much they’re spending in overtime, equipment costs, and so on. Volunteer organizations have a slightly different story. When some hear about an organization that runs on volunteer labor, they mistakenly connect the word volunteer to free or cheap. The true story is that many costs go into operating a volunteer service, and a volunteer workforce is anything but free or cheap. Understanding how to calculate the true cost of volunteer labor is a critical skill for those charged with running a service that utilizes volunteers in isolation or as part of a mixed workforce.

On February 6th, the American Ambulance Association is hosting an Ambulance Cost Data Collection webinar on the topic of volunteer labor and how to calculate the cost of a volunteer workforce.

Some of the items Scott Moore Esq., HR and Operations consultant for the AAA, will review in the webinar are:

• EMS industry volunteer organizational and labor statistics in the United States
• National statistics for calculating the value of volunteer labor
• Methodologies and formulas other Medicare reimbursed healthcare providers must furnish as part of their industry Medicare Cost Reports
• How EMS agency’s use and percentage of volunteer labor has historically impacted GAO reports and reimbursement rates
• Key cost related factors that will be required to report labor costs for volunteers accurately
• The importance of tracking the hours of all volunteers by position.
• Which costs you should include when calculating the cost of volunteer labor and those commonly missed

Calculating the cost of volunteer labor is undoubtedly one of the more difficult, and most important, components of the cost data collection process. This webinar will leave you with a standard formula you can use to calculate the cost of volunteer labor within your service. If you are leading a volunteer organization, you need to participate in this webinar along with the individual or team that looks after your finances.

Looking for more ambulance cost data collection content? Visit www.ambulancereports.org. You will find both free resources and paid subscriptions are available to fit your budget and help your service prepare for the future of EMS.

Cost Data Collection: -473 Days 21 Hours 14 Minutes 2 Seconds until mandatory reporting begins!