National Night Out is an annual event that brings communities together to promote crime prevention, neighborhood camaraderie, and a positive relationship with local law enforcement agencies, volunteer fire departments, and EMS services. This year we celebrate the 40th year of National Night Out on August 1, 2023, and it presents an incredible opportunity for volunteer fire and EMS departments and law enforcement agencies to engage with the community and attract potential recruits.
So here are some creative ideas to help your department make the most of National Night Out and effectively draw in recruits for your team.
Showcase Department Equipment and Vehicles
Set up an impressive display of your department’s equipment and vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances, and police cruisers. Allow attendees to explore the vehicles, try on gear, and interact with the equipment. This hands-on experience can generate excitement and interest among potential recruits.
Engage the crowd with interactive demonstrations highlighting your department members’ skills and expertise. For fire and EMS departments, consider showcasing simulated rescue operations, CPR demonstrations, or basic first aid training sessions. Law enforcement agencies can demonstrate K-9 unit skills, tactical maneuvers, or mock crime scene investigations. Encourage attendees to participate and engage with your team during these activities.
Pro tip: Use QR codes on your flyers or signs. When someone scans the code, it will take them to your webpage, where they can fill out their contact info to join your department. It’s a fast and easy way to collect their information without using paper forms.
Set up a dedicated booth to provide interested individuals with more information about volunteer opportunities or careers within your department. Provide brochures, pamphlets, and information packets that outline the application process, training requirements, and benefits of joining. Have department members available at the booth to answer questions, share their experiences, and discuss the unique aspects of your department.
Check out our blog post, “Setting the Table for Volunteer Fire/EMS Recruitment Success,” for expert tips and guidance on creating a standout booth.
Volunteer Experience Stations
Create stations that offer a taste of the volunteer experience in your department. For example, set up a mini-obstacle course for potential recruits to navigate, simulating real-life scenarios. Allow them to wear firefighting gear or experience a simulated emergency response. This hands-on engagement can inspire individuals to pursue a career or volunteer opportunity with your department.
Engage with Families
Remember that National Night Out is family-oriented, so engage with parents and children. Consider organizing activities such as face painting, fingerprinting demonstrations, or safety workshops for kids. Engage parents in conversations about the importance of community involvement and the volunteer opportunities available within your department.
Pro tip: Ask, “Have you ever thought about being a volunteer?” By asking this question, we open the door for individuals to consider a path of service that they may have never considered before. It’s about creating awareness and allowing people to explore the fulfilling world of volunteering.
Personal Testimonials and Success Stories
Feature testimonials and success stories from current volunteers or department members at your booth or in promotional materials. Highlight their journey, their impact, and the personal fulfillment they have found through their involvement. Real-life stories can be compelling and inspiring for potential recruits.
Social Media Engagement
Use the power of social media to promote your department’s participation in National Night Out. Create engaging posts, share behind-the-scenes glimpses, and encourage attendees to tag your department in their event-related posts. You can generate a buzz, reach a wider audience, and attract potential recruits to attend the event.
Look at how the San Jose Police Department created a promo video for this year’s event.
National Night Out 2023 presents a unique opportunity for volunteer fire and EMS departments and law enforcement agencies to showcase their work, engage with the community, and attract potential recruits. By implementing these creative ideas, you can make a lasting impression and inspire individuals to join your department. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of National Night Out by strengthening your recruitment efforts and building a dedicated and passionate team.
Remember, it’s not just about one night; it’s about building relationships that will make a difference in your community for years. Good luck with your recruitment efforts, and let’s make the 40th National Night Out, this August 1, 2023, the best one ever.