It is widely understood that when an individual is tired, he or she will not make good decisions. It has also been found that an individual suffering from extreme exhaustion exhibits symptoms like an individual who is driving under the influence - thus, fatigue is a serious issue that encompasses many different facets of society.
The Argument for Shorter Shifts
When it comes to Emergency Medical Services, this issue is particularly serious because this is when medical and traffic accidents occur - issues that can be particularly serious. One EMS agency, however, is working to change longer shifts to shorter shifts in order to keep patients and their staff safe. Donovan Davis, Director of Emergency Services, expressed his concerns about this the Randolph County Commissioners meeting recently. Mr. Davis cited that employees were leaving EMS agencies to find 9-5 jobs are shorter shifts.
The Retention Piece
Shorter shifts may create more desirable work conditions, but could also have a direct effect on the retention of good employees in Emergency Medical Services. Mr. Davis' remarks touch on some of the retention problems Emergency Medical Services has been having across the country. In some areas, it has been difficult to recruit volunteers, and just as Mr. Davis states, it can be difficult to retain good employees if they're unhappy with their work conditions.
Low Wages, Multiple Jobs
While moving to shorter shifts is a very good decision on behalf of an ambulance agency, it can be a difficult decision for an agency, too. Many EMTs and paramedics will work several different jobs to make ends meet because they cannot make ends meet with the wages they're earning from one job alone. The decision to limit the hours a staff member can work can be detrimental to the financial well-being of the staff - even if it is a good decision for patient care and employee safety.
Moving to shorter shifts certainly is an important decision for an ambulance agency. It encompasses the issues that come from fatigue moving to create more security for patient care and employee safety. It can also have positive impacts on the retention of employees in public safety positions. Financially, there is the potential to create financial burdens for public safety employees. Ultimately, there are many pieces to the retention puzzle and shorter shifts may very well be a step in the right direction across the country.