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Tenn. county EMS adds 24 hours to mandatory off-days

Leaders at Rutherford County EMS say the previous practice of 24/48 shifts did not leave providers enough time to satisfy a healthy work-life balance

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Rutherford County

By Jessie Forand

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. — A change in how shifts are scheduled at Rutherford County EMS aims to provide a more balanced work and home life for EMS providers and their families.

Beginning in September, RCEMS personnel will work a 24-hour shift followed by 72 hours off, instead of the previous 48, according to a press release from the agency.

The goal is to allow staff more time between shifts to decompress, RCEMS Director Carl Hudgens said.

“EMS is not a regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and never has been, but the previous 24-hour on/48-hour off shifts were not allowing our personnel to effectively balance their work/life responsibilities and time,” Hudgens said. “At RCEMS, our employees and their families are extremely important to us and we want to make sure we’re taking care of our own so that they can be who they need to be when it’s time to go home each day.”

The change was approved by a county commission vote earlier this month, along with a pay increase for eligible RCEMS staff of up to 5.75%.

“We have some of the best first responders in the state of Tennessee,” County Mayor Bill Ketron said, “I happen to think some of the best in the country! We want to ensure that we are providing them with benefits that positively impact their careers and families respectively.”

The county has made a recruitment video, hoping that the new schedule system, plus the insurance, retirement, time off and advancement benefits will attract new candidates.