What does the Membership Reform project do?

The AAMS Membership Reform Project is focused on 3 key areas:

  1. Standardize dues for AAMS’ Members of the same or similar size; and
  2. Ensure AAMS’ dues income covers its core operating costs (personnel, office lease and utilities, etc.);
  3. Ensure effectiveness governance by the AAMS Board.
Why the urgency to do this now?

We, as an industry, have been very lucky.  We were extremely lucky in 2001 that the nation-wide grounding of commercial air traffic was lifted just prior to AMTC in Orlando, allowing that conference to happen.  We were even luckier in 2016 (when we had to postpone AMTC in Charlotte 72 hours before its scheduled start due to two tragic shootings), that we were able to re-schedule AMTC 2016 Ver. 2.0 for later the same year.  Every year, since at least 2002, AAMS has reported, at the annual membership meeting, that income from membership dues does not cover our core operating expenses.  That means AAMS needs to rely on income from AMTC to cover those core expenses.  In fact, almost two-thirds of AAMS’ annual income comes from one event, AMTC.  We are always one bad AMTC away from a financial crisis.  2016 demonstrated the “perfect storm” of circumstances and showed the high-level of risk of relying on AMTC for over 60% of our annual revenue.

International Trade Associations the size and scope of AAMS average 39% of their annual income from membership dues; AAMS’ averages less than 26% from member dues.  The Center for Association Leadership (an ASAE organization that assists non-profit organizations and non-profit leaders) recommends an association’s annual revenue should come from: 1/3 Member Dues; 1/3 Events; and 1/3 other income.  If we don’t address the dues inequity now, and we have another event that affects AMTC (e.g., severe storm, civil unrest, terror attack, etc.), AAMS and the MedEvac Foundation will face immediate financial crises and potential bankruptcy.  That means world class programs like the Medical Transport Leadership Institute (MTLI) and its Certified Medical Transport Executive (CMTE) certifications would end; the Safety Management Training Academy and its Certified Medical Transport Safety Professional certifications would end; Ground breaking research, like the Developing HEMS Capacity Study and the Sleep/Wake Study, would end; Member support programs like Family Grants and Children’s’ Scholarships would end;  and AMTC with over 150 education sessions, continuing education units, interactive exhibit hall, awards, community recognition, and networking opportunities would end.  Additionally, AMTC revenue provides a significant portion of our contributing sponsor organizations’ (AMPA, ASTNA, IAFCCP, IAMTCS, and NEMSPA) annual income and those organizations would also be placed in financial risk if another unfortunate event occurs in the future.

The events of 2016 brought back the urgent need to address the long-term health of the industry’s trade association and its industry-related charitable foundation who support our industry and our industry members.

Why do we need to change AAMS’ dues instead of adjusting them to cover core expenses?

We are attempting to eliminate the over-reliance on small and medium sized members for dues income.  Currently, when programs merge or are acquired, their memberships and dues are lost without making adjustments to the new “parent” organization’s dues.  That “cost-shifts” support for the association to our smaller members, unfairly.  Also, in the past, AAMS refunded dues (after they were paid) if a program merged or was acquired after paying their annual dues.  Additionally, members of the same, or similar, sizes and structures pay significantly different dues.

These reforms will finally standardize Regular Member dues in the Very Small, Small, Medium, and Large (VS, S, M, and L) size categories, and also for our Critical Care Ground and our International members.  Those size categories are based on the number of operational rotary-wing or fixed-wing aircraft.  Businesses whose primary business is Rotary Wing are Very Small, Small, Medium, Large, or Very Large based on the number of operational Rotary Wing aircraft (1-3=VS, 4-9=S, 10-24=M, 25-49=L, and 50+=VL).  Businesses whose primary business is Fixed-Wing are Very Small, Small, or Medium based on the number of operational fixed-wing aircraft (1=VS, 2-4=S, and 5+=M).  Businesses with Critical Care Ground only and our International Members will be in the Very Small category.

Affiliate and Personal Member dues are not affected by the Membership Reform Project.  We will continue your current dues with the 3% inflationary adjustment each year.

What will happen to my dues?

AAMS is currently in its FY18 (Mar 17-Feb18).  During FY19, FY20, and FY21, nothing will be different for programs in the VS, S, M, and L size-categories or for our CCG and International Members; we will continue your current dues with the 3% inflationary adjustment each year that was instituted in 2010.

In FY22 (on March 1, 2021) the standardized dues structure for VS, S, M, and L, CCG, and International Members, will be put in place.  At that time, over 80% of our VS, S, M, and L size, CCG, and International Members will see a reduction in their membership dues!  For those few members that will see a dues increase, AAMS Membership Director, Elena Sierra, will be able to work with each member (individually) to put that increase in place over a four-year period (FYs 22, 23, 24, and 25) so they can plan well in advance and not have a cash problem.   For specific answers on whether your dues will increase or decrease, you can contact AAMS Membership Director Elena Sierra or AAMS President & CEO Rick Sherlock.

Why do we need to wait until FY22 to standardize the dues instead of standardizing now?

Maintaining inflationary adjustments (3%) to the current dues structure and waiting until FY22 to standardize dues for VS, S, M, and L Regular Members will mean an overwhelming majority of members will be very close to the standardized rates.  In fact, over 80% of members will see an actual dues reduction when the standardized rates are put in place, and no one will be unduly burdened.

Won’t this just give more power to the very large members?

No.  AAMS worked with our Very Large Regular Members to institute new individualized dues schedules for each of them, already, this year, in FY18.  Their new dues take into account the mergers and consolidations that have occurred in past years and have them pay dues that are commensurate with their size relative to the industry.  That eliminates the over-reliance on small member dues to fund the association, when members “pay their fair share.”  It also institutes strict limits on board voting blocks.  Instead of having individual companies, who are relatives under the same holding company, each able to elect one board member (resulting in the possibility of 3, 4, or 5 potential voting members of the board), this limits any organization or umbrella organization to no more than 15% of the voting members of the board.  In the current structure of the board, that limits a company or family of companies to two (2) voting board members, thereby, always ensuring no one can monopolize the board.

Why does this give the board the ability to appoint directors? Doesn’t that take authority away from members?

No.  These reforms are designed to ensure the board can maintain the diversity of our membership and will improve the effectiveness of the AAMS Board.  The AAMS Board needs members who have a diverse set of skills and experiences to ensure effective oversight of the association and the staff.  Those skills and experiences include non-profit experience, nursing and other clinical experience, financial/accounting/CFO experience, safety experience, aviation experience, and others.  Those skills aren’t always present.  In fact, the Center for Association Leadership has noted the trend of non-profit boards moving away from 100% elected positions.  The ability to appoint 3 At-Large Directors will ensure the board has the broad diversity of our community and the right skill-sets (e.g., clinical, non-profit, aviation, safety, financial, etc.) for effective governance and oversight of AAMS and AAMS’ programs and activities.  The reforms also make the Board Chair position a two-year position to provide consistent leadership and oversight of the CEO and staff and eliminate the situation where we’ve had four Board Chairs over the past five-year period of time.

What does this to do voting rights?

Nothing.  It was the desire of the Membership Committee and AAMS’ leadership to take things one step at a time.  If voting or any other additional changes need to be made, the AAMS Board is confident that these issues can be addressed as they may arise, and solutions found.

What happens if this doesn’t pass?

The AAMS Board was given the authority to make bylaws changes without a membership vote in 2012, during our membership meeting at AMTC 2012 in Seattle.  The Board could, therefore, have gone ahead with these changes without bringing them to our members.  However, AAMS’ Board and leadership believe we are a membership-driven organization that represents our whole industry, not just the interests of a few.  Therefore, we are bringing this to our membership for ratification.  If these reforms do not go through (as in 2002, 2007, 2008, and 2009), they will not be implemented without the support of our membership.  However, AAMS and our community will remain financially vulnerable with, what the board and management believes is, an unacceptable level of risk.  Our programs and members who benefit from MTLI, SMTA, Family Grants, and all the other things AAMS and the MedEvac Foundation bring in support of our industry will remain one unhappy event away from going away.

View the working draft of the AAMS Bylaws.