Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Statement of Problem

National guardsmen are a unique human resource issue because their association with the guard is frequently part-time with another position, such as a State Trooper, acting as primary employment. When mobilized, the guardsman leaves an opening in their department, which must be available upon return. This can create operational and management stresses, especially if the guardsman has unique skills. Moreover, the loss of personnel can mean critical loss of manpower to small emergency service departments.

Research Question

  • What affects the impact of mobilization?
  • How are Kentucky’s emergency services affected by military mobilization as opposed to other types of personnel loss?

  • What kind of coping mechanisms do department managers employ to offset personnel losses?


A self-created survey was sent to all Kentucky State Police Posts (N=16) and a random sample of local fire departments (n=111). Fifty-eight responses encompass this report, totaling to a 45.6% response rate. The survey asked participants to quantify the number of employees lost to six areas of personnel loss; specify their perceptions of military mobilization, budget constraints and retirement on the department’s ability to provide services; and rate the impact on specific services. Finally, respondents were asked to indicate possible management mechanisms to cope with personnel loss.


Kentucky State Police and local fire departments both reported losses due to military mobilization, but Kentucky State Police posts were more likely to indicate loss meant an impact on services. Loss of personnel was varied throughout the state, but no one area carries a significant share of mobilization losses. Local fire departments indicated budget constraints were more of concern than mobilization, although less than 10% of respondent departments indicated having lost personnel to budget constraints.


The state of emergency services in Kentucky is an emergency management and Homeland Security issue. More research is needed to find out how other emergency services are fairing during military mobilization, and whether fire department responses regarding budget concerns are a precursor of a budget crisis for fire departments in Kentucky.