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5 EMS timekeeping problems and how to navigate with software

Manually calculating hours worked, tracking PTO requests and verifying daily schedule questions is time consuming, and vulnerable to human error

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As a shift supervisor, scheduling coordinator, payroll manager or special event coordinator, working with the right electronic scheduling software can help to keep your agency on track, fully-staffed and prepared for the days and months to come.


There’s still a time and place for a paper calendar, but not when it comes to managing an ambulance service.

As a shift supervisor, scheduling coordinator, payroll manager or special event coordinator, working with the right electronic scheduling software can help to keep your agency on track, fully-staffed and prepared for the days and months to come. Working with the right electronic scheduling software can help to keep your agency working.

For EMS providers, many of the features available through web-based scheduling software expand beyond simple calendar functions (including CE tracking, vacation/PTO tracking, paycheck filing, etc.).

This article explores 5 common timekeeping challenges EMS agencies face and how to mitigate them with scheduling software.

1. Managing day-to-day schedules

The EMS workforce is full of scheduling metrics and dynamics. Whether you’re trying to manage an on-call schedule for your volunteer agency, keep track of your 24-hour shift status for each station, or are trying to manage a dynamic system comprised of 12-, 10- and 8-hour shifts, utilizing a scheduling software is going to be your best friend.

For field providers, integrating the agency’s staffing software into personal life management brings a sigh of relief. Long-range planning, submitting vacation requests or even viewing upcoming work partners can all be accessed via laptop, tablet or smartphone.

2. Got a late call?

We’ve all been there as providers; the next shift starts at 7 a.m., and the last call of your shift comes in at 6:30 a.m. Now you’re going to be held-over to complete this call. Will this put your total work hours into overtime status? Or, does this late call cause a scheduling shift for other units or stations because other crew members couldn’t be relieved? Managing the effects of a late call can all be laid-out via your scheduling software.

3. Managing overtime

EMS providers work a variety of workweek schedules and overtime is affected differently in each. Forty hours, 42 hours or 56 hours; each workweek schedule presents different payroll challenges and scheduling conflicts. Managing different parameters and payroll metrics can all be accomplished with scheduling software. In a sense, choosing a versatile and effective staffing software can help to save your agency work hours by eliminating the need to manually track different overtime and payroll rules (thus, promoting administrative efficiency).

4. Want to trade?

Here’s another common scenario. You need off next Wednesday? Push a notification to other crew members within the system and request a trade. Once you find an accepting coworker, submit a trade request for a shift supervisor to review and approve.

Done. Now you can enjoy your Wednesday off, while you negotiate working for your coworker the Tuesday following.

Unsuccessful with finding someone to trade with? Cancel your trade request and submit a vacation request. Your supervisor gets notified, views the calendar to view its staffing status, and then selects “approve.”

5. Shift sign-up

Special event management can pose a unique challenge for the operations of any agency. Whether it’s staffing on a first-come basis or a seniority-based overtime model, determining who submitted first likely can’t be accomplished on paper ... and receiving 100 email submissions is hardly productive.

Instead, time-stamping sign-up submissions through staffing software may just be the key you’ve been looking for. Simply create a new sign-up opportunity, outline a description of the event, set its deadline, and then send out the opportunity to the entire department.

Have a pending long-distance transfer where you need to call-in a new crew for coverage? Send a notification and view the sign-up list, then reply back with who the incoming crew will be.

Want to sign-up for a shift? Simply log-in, select “sign-up,” and then wait for your approval notification once the deadline passes. Your approval will then populate into your calendar and be calculated into your paycheck ... all without having to make a pen stroke.

Tim is the founder and CEO of Emergency Medical Solutions, LLC, an EMS training and consulting company that he developed in 2010. He has nearly two decades of experience in the emergency services industry, having worked as a career firefighter, paramedic and critical care paramedic in a variety of urban, suburban, rural and in-hospital environments. His background includes nearly a decade of company officer and chief officer level experience, in addition to training content delivery and program development spanning his entire career. He is experienced in EMS operations, community paramedicine, quality assurance, data management, training, special operations and administration disciplines, and holds credentials as both a supervising and managing paramedic officer.

Tim also has active experience as a columnist and content developer with over 200 published works and over 100 hours of education content available online, and is a social media influencer on LinkedIn within the EMS industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn or at
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