Detroit EMS personnel protest long hours, short staffing
EMTs and paramedics in an unofficial picket call for changes to working conditions
By Bill Carey
DETROIT — Several Detroit EMS workers and paramedics have chosen to stand in solidarity on the picket lines, advocating for better working conditions, even though they haven’t obtained official union endorsement.
Tom Gehart, the president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, told FOX 2 that the union did not officially sanction this activity. However, he is working with Mayor Mike Duggan to address the grievances raised by the protesting workers and work towards resolving their concerns.
“For a couple of years now several ambulances each night are closed for lack of staffing,” Patrick Driscoll, a spokesperson for the protesting EMS personnel and firefighters, said. Those trained in handling emergency medical services and fires are being “asked to remain awake for all 24 hours, fighting fires during the day and going from call to call while working the ambulance at night.”
Detroit Fire Department Chief of Staff David Levalley acknowledged that there have been staffing issues with ambulances. However, he expressed optimism that the situation would improve, as recruits are being trained to handle both EMS and fire responsibilities.
“Recently, we signed a contract with a consortium of EMS providers to supplement what we put out every day in the city of Detroit,” Levalley said. “As these issues arise, and we realize certain pieces of the dual-roll program aren’t working to perfection, we will make adjustments, and we will look for ways to improve.”