Safety, the four letter word

Kentucky remains in the spot light with the recent dismissal of an EMT. Louisville Metro EMS dismissed the EMT after she spoke with the media about sleep deprivation concerns in EMS. She had been on suspension for falling asleep in a patients house while entering information into her electronic patient care report.

Medic 51 has even shared his thoughts on shift work and the negative culture that exists in EMS today. Not every agency takes a hard line like “if you don’t like the work you can find another job”, but enough managers believe that employees who voice concerns are all just whining about the job. This is not new to EMS.

The reactions I have read from people on social media sites are all directed towards the individuals, how they are always complaining and causing problems. They were also waving the “if you don’t like it…” standard, and many people flocked to the same conclusion. Even the statements from the Louisville Metro Council are off the target, citing overtime expenses and budgetary concerns.

The news hinted at the issue, stating that Louisville Metro EMS has 24% fewer people on working than they did two years ago. Sixty Three fewer people to fill the shifts. Sixty three more positions that they have to force people to work.

Art Hsieh, posted a quick thought on EMS1.com. As a well respected, published author on EMS topics I was shocked that he didn’t take the thought as far. He did leave us with the statement “I’m wondering what else is happening in the back story that’s not being reported.” He knows there is more to the firing and mandatory holdover complaints than what we are seeing.

The issue that should be on the front page, is safety. Do you really want a paramedic trying to do the dopamine calculation when they’ve been awake for the past 20 hours? I do not want to address multiple jobs, lack of pay, off duty activities (even though I am aware that these can all contribute to sleep deprivation), I just want to know why it is acceptable to hold EMS workers every shift, up to 16 hours. There are tales on the streets of Louisville that people have been held to 20 hours due to lack of coverage.

Between the driving an ambulance, calculating the correct dose of a medication, performing life saving interventions, there are many opportunities where our actions affect  patient outcome. Sleep deprivation will affect your ability to make decisions. Why are we not addressing THIS issue? Am I the only one concerned with safety in EMS?

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About Joel

I am a paramedic, firefighter and I work for an organ procurement organization. All stories related to work have been altered to HIPPA standards and for the protection of those involved. The personal stories are different. Photography, flying, aviation, hiking, camping, travel, geocaching, amateur radio are a few of my hobbies.
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5 Responses to Safety, the four letter word

  1. fergus says:

    you are not the only one concerned about the safety issue. sadly, that is all I can say due to me being just as concerned with job security.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

  3. Joel says:

    I know that the holdover issue has been a problem ever since merger. I am also aware that it remains a problem and in several cases people have left LMEMS due to mandatory work days. I just don’t understand why the politicians are still ignoring the issues with EMS in Louisville. The media fail to follow up on concerns, this story will get buried like all the others with little or no action by the Metro Council.

  4. Agreed. I love my job, so much so I’ve been a volunteer for two years till I find a paid job. But no matter how much I love my job and 10 calls in 24 hours, doesn’t mean that I’m Superwoman and the possibility for error isn’t there after 24 hours awake.

  5. Pingback: Sleep = Safety |

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