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EMS agencies turn to cloud-based, integrated software packages to improve efficiency

All personnel need appropriate access to information, forms and schedules from any device which connects to the Internet

Welcome to the new world of EMS Management Software. What’s different from previous versions? Forget spreadsheets, flat-file databases, disconnected data sets and lack of employee or member involvement when it comes to information management in your EMS agency.

In today’s world, it’s all about breaking down information silos, eliminating redundancy and giving everyone in the organization the appropriate access to information.

Everybody gets to play
Today’s EMS management software is web- or cloud-based so that any member of the organization with an Internet connection can interact with your agency’s system 24/7/365 from their desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. You can conduct your banking affairs from your smartphone phone at 11:00 p.m., right? So why shouldn’t your employees be able to request time off, pick up an overtime shift, or change their home address in your system when it’s convenient to them?

Integrated software systems are fast becoming the norm
The most popular EMS software vendors have seemed to come to the same conclusion regarding EMS management software: scheduling, personnel management, and records management should be part of the same package. The leading software programs on the market today have many features in common, including:

  • A customizable member database that enables the employer to keep all employment-related information for every employee safe and secure in one place. Just as importantly, that data is available as necessary for use by other modules in the package.
  • A form system that enables the agency to convert legacy forms to electronic format as well as creating new forms from within the system to meet new needs.
  • Document storage that enables the agency to have all of its governing documents, such as policies, procedures and processes online and accessible from any device with Internet access.
  • Time-saving communication tools, like personal mailboxes, forced acknowledgement of messages, email and text messaging, calendar synch to mobile devices and new message alerts for timely notifications to field employees regarding a variety of operational updates from schedule changes, to certification notices, new policies, shift change approvals and more.

Online scheduling features
Managing today’s dynamic workforce can be a challenge for even the most seasoned paramedic chief. The current generation of EMS crew scheduling technology provides those managers with an immense variety of tools to get every employee involved in the scheduling process with features such as:

  • Availability submission that enables employees to submit their availability for upcoming schedules. An employee can designate their availability as preferred, available or unavailable.
  • Manual scheduling allows managers to create and fill schedules based on employee availability, seniority, or hours worked. Multiple schedule views are available such as daily, weekly, monthly pay period views. Additional capabilities include manual entry of special events and extra duty schedules to the base schedule and tracking training classes, meetings, court appearances and more.
  • Automatic or template scheduling that provides a vast array of pre-configured rotations including: 24 hours on/48 hours off; 48 on/96 off; the Chicago Rotation; the California Rotation; and many more.
  • Shift sign-up features enable employees to view and sign-up for open shifts with those sign-ups being manually or automatically approved depending upon the agency’s protocols. Manual approvals are made more simple by auto-sorting based on order of submission, hours worked, seniority and other employer assigned attributes.
  • Overtime scheduling and tracking capabilities that enable a manager to easily see which employees can be scheduled without going into overtime. This feature can also alert the manager when they’re about to schedule somebody into overtime. A rotating overtime callback list feature ensures that any manager filling an open spot knows who is next in line for overtime.
  • Shift trades can be automated enabling employees to giveaway shifts to other qualified employees, swap shifts with other qualified employees and allow automatic approval of trades based on compliance rules or required administrator approval.
  • Customizable compliance features enable paramedic chiefs and their managers to: establish maximum continuous work hour limits; establish maximum work hour limits per day, week or month; ensure compliance with union contract provisions and Fair Labor Standards Act requirements; ensure compliance with an agency’s internal audit requirements; ensure compliance with minimum training levels for scheduling, trades, and sign-ups; and increase fairness and transparency, reduce employee grievances and turnover, and eliminate accusations of favoritism.

Records management for your employees and assets
It is equally important for EMS managers to document that personnel are compliant with regulatory requirements, such as completion of required OSHA training, as well as EMS certification and recertification requirements. Add in the need for keeping accurate records for vehicle and equipment checks and you’ve got the need for an automated records management system.

With available software employers can build your member database using standard information fields or customized fields. With that database you and your employees can: maintain their contact information; track and manage their completed training, licenses and certifications. Members can receive alerts when a certification is soon to expire.

Managers can also create online forms for vehicle maintenance, equipment checks, incident reports, inventory and more. Employees can fill out forms electronically from their computer or mobile device and supervisors and managers can have access to those completed forms in real time.

The library or document storage function for several of the software packages available enables you and your staff to store documents, videos, pictures and practically any other type of computer file for online access. Management controls for this function enable paramedic chiefs and their staff to set appropriate access parameters for different employee groups.

Before you get started answer these questions
Paramedic chiefs should carefully consider the following questions when trying to pinpoint key problems that could be causing inefficient scheduling operations and increased costs. The answers to these questions will go a long way toward getting the right resource management system software for the EMS agency.

  • How do you currently schedule your employees?
  • How many EMTs and paramedics do you have?
  • What is your biggest challenge with scheduling?
  • Do you have trouble controlling overtime?
  • How do employees submit a request for a particular shift?
  • How do you ensure your vehicles are staffed with members that have the appropriate qualifications?
  • How do you find replacements for last-minute open personnel slots?
  • How do you track resources such as vehicles or aircraft?
  • How many physical locations do you have?
  • Who will be accessing the system?
  • What kind of infrastructure and support do you have for informational technology, internet connectivity, pages, email, tablets and smartphones?
  • What kind of shifts and rotations do you use?
  • Do you use a planning tool to create your staffing plans?
  • How do you currently distribute schedules? What are the caveats?
  • What are your critical factors for this system?

Share your tips, experiences and resources for implementing new software applications into an EMS agency.

Resources reviewed
1. Aladtec. On-line Employee Scheduling.
2. eCore Software. ePro Scheduler for EMS.
3. EMS eSchedule. Scheduling & Time Clock Software for Ambulance & EMS Agencies.
4. Zoll Data. A Scheduling Solution Should Be About Saving Both Time and Money. White Paper. [Available online]

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years beginning as a firefighter/EMT; he retired as an EMT-Cardiac Technician (ALS provider) certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia. During his career he was an active instructor, beginning as an EMT Instructor, who later became an instructor for fire, hazardous materials, and leadership courses at the local, state, and federal levels, which included more than 10 years as a Contract Instructor with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master of science degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. Since his retirement in 2007, he has continued to be a life-long learner working in both the private and public sectors to further develop his “management sciences mechanic” credentials. He makes his home near Charleston, W.Va. Contact Robert at

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