One of the best ways to invite the public to learn about your EMS agency is by hosting an open house. Children, adults and seniors are curious about EMS, and many people would love a chance to meet their local EMTs and paramedics and take a peek inside the ambulance, fire apparatus, or other emergency response vehicles. Here are some tips to help you host a successful open house for EMS Week.
Create an EMS Week committee to make the preparations. Involve as many people as possible in the planning process so that all of the nuts and bolts of the event are addressed in advance.
Decide when and where the open house will be held and what kinds of activities you will offer to attract visitors. Your decisions will be based on time, budget and the message that you want to give to the public.
For example, did you just purchase a new vehicle? If so, perhaps you want to focus attention on your ambulance, fire apparatus, or other new emergency response vehicles. With summer coming up, maybe water safety is important to you. Plan events with water, such as a water balloon toss and bobbing for apples.
Other popular activities are blood pressure checks and a teddy bear clinic. Other articles in this planning guide will help you with specifics.
Offer people the option to take a tour, but do not make the tour a requirement. People often want to attend strictly for social reasons or to unwind. Plan events that inform and educate, but don’t discount the importance of simply meeting and greeting your neighbors.
Plan a menu that includes small finger foods and simple beverages. If you have a larger budget or are planning to charge for food, you can have a barbecue or an ice cream social. The challenge with food is ordering the right quantity, keeping it at the right temperature, staffing the food station and cleaning up. Be sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew in the food department.
Send out invitations at least one month in advance. Include the local media, business owners, government officials, healthcare staff and the public. Post flyers about your open house in libraries, schools, community centers, senior centers and other public places. Be sure to list activities and foods that will be available.
Clean before your event to make your quarters sparkle and shine. You want everything to look and feel neat, clean and professional. Also, you should assign a clean-up committee for after the event is over. Clean-up takes time and energy that the hosts, educators and other participants may not have by the end of the day.
If your open house is held in a fire station or someplace with an oven, you can take advantage of an old realtors’ trick: Bake something with a pleasing aroma (such as cinnamon) 30 minutes prior to the event. Pleasant food aromas instill fond memories in people which can help others connect to you more easily. Assign a host/hostess committee to greet people as they arrive.