Tenn. EMS providers start petition to ban 24-hour shifts

A petition urging Governor Bill Haslam to create legislation preventing workers’ fatigue has reached over 3,000 signatures

By EMS1 Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A petition was created in the hopes of persuading the governor to create legislation banning 24-hour EMS shifts.

The petition argues that EMS providers are not getting enough rest to be “adequately prepared mentally, physically and emotionally” to treat patients with the current shift lengths.

EMS providers are signing a petition to add regulations to prevent job fatigue. (Photo/Pixabay)
EMS providers are signing a petition to add regulations to prevent job fatigue. (Photo/Pixabay)

“Increases in call volumes over the last two decades coupled with the ‘Laissez-faire’ status, that allows for both public and private ambulance services to run both emergency and non-emergency calls when many of the employees have not slept, and in some cases, have not stopped treating patients for 24-plus hours, has created a paradigm of prehospital care that is damaging to the provider, the public and the patients,” the petition reads.

The petition added that the EMS providers are also responsible for the safety of the patient while driving an ambulance, but “doing so while barely able to keep one’s eyes open is comparable and at times worse than driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.”

“Currently, EMS organizations are excluded from restrictions placed on the number of hours that an individual can drive,” the petition said. “In an effort to reduce costs, most private services operate with one EMT and one paramedic. Because paramedics have a larger scope of practice, this creates a dilemma where the EMT may have to drive 100 percent of the time.”

The petition concludes by calling upon Governor Bill Haslam to:

  • Legislate stricter definitions of emergency, non-emergency to prevent administrative manipulation of the intent of the law.
  • Legally protect providers’ right to refuse calls if they feel they are too exhausted to adequately provide care as is common practice in air medical industries.
  • Provide stricter oversight by independent agencies to the working conditions of prehospital providers.
  • Diversify the flow of income to ambulance services by allowing EMS organizations to bill for preventive care services provided in home and to pressure Medicare, and private insurance companies to reimburse for services other than transport.

The petition currently has over 3,000 signatures. To sign, click here.

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