Union leaders draw attention to staffing, sleep deprivation after rig crash
A Long Beach EMS provider fell asleep early Sunday while driving an ambulance to a call and crashed the rig into a power pole
By Leila Merrill
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Local union leaders have been speaking up after a Long Beach EMS provider fell asleep early Sunday while driving an ambulance to a call and crashed the rig into a power pole.
"It takes, unfortunately, a tragedy or a potential tragedy for a light to be shined on this and to get people to act," said Rex Pritchard, president of Long Beach Firefighters Association Local 372.
The two EMS providers sustained minor injuries.
The union representing some Long Beach firefighters claims that most paramedics pull 72-hour shifts on four to six hours of sleep. https://t.co/owCxc3Kbgx— KCAL News (@kcalnews) April 5, 2023
"Right now, we still have employees who are still dealing with sleep deprivation and knowing that this has been going on for over a year and didn't come up with concrete solutions to solve it," said Pritchard.
The Long Beach Firefighters Association Local 372 president said he and leaders of the International Association of Machinists Local 1930 have been urging the department to address the issues of sleep deprivation and call volume for more than a year to no avail.
"What is very common in this department is to work 72-hour shifts," said Pritchard. "You're lucky if you get, in that 72 hours, four to six hours of rest.”
Long Beach Fire Chief Dennis Buchannan wrote in a letter to the two unions that he is working to hire more crewmembers.