my department is looking to start trying a shift schedule. this would be primarily for our ambulance and would consist of having one ems provider cover a 24hr period once a month with the stipulation that they have to be within a 7 minute response of the district. this is a new concept as we are a small volunteer department. what would be some good ideas to encourage providers to agree to this and how to go about disciplinary actions should they not cover a shift they signed up for? i hope ive conveyed my idea so that its understandable
thanks for the help everyone
All of our coverage is done with duty crews from the station, with the career staff (coverage is one Paramedic/FF 24 hr shift and one EMT/FF from 8am to 6pm.) We don't count on the vollies during the day for EMS (although we do have many that show up and hang during the day and augment crews, occasionally we will have two ALS crews on status), but they do have night duty crews from 6pm to 8am. We require at least one EMT/FF to drive the Paramedic. You sign up for one night a week, and stay in the station. Everyone usually orders dinner or cooks together. If you cannot make your duty crew YOU are responsible for getting a replacement. Many nights have 2-3 overnighters.
Fire crews usually respond from home although we do have a few "fire only" guys that overnight. And in bad weather we always have enough for an engine crew or two.
I've seen two types of systems: Home response or in station.
For a home response setup guys are assigned or sign up to respond to the station for all calls during a period. In-station systems obviously has the crew in station.
From a department perspective there area real advantages to in-station crews with respect to response time.. you're cutting a pretty big chunk of time off by having guys there and ready to response. You also have more of a guarantee the call will get answered.. if you have an issue of a guy not showing up you'll know at the beginning of the shift, not when the pager goes off.
I'm a fan of the in-station duty crews. We've operated this way for 10+ years and while there was some angst originally it is functioning pretty well now. In between runs we cook or order dinner, do a lot of training, and then hang out and rip apart some B-grade movie from RedBox. The camaraderie between guys is a huge benefit and actually helps recruitment and retention as well.
One of the big factors to which system is best is call volume. If you have a lot of calls then in-station crews is probably better. Not many calls then home-response. That's true from a morale perspective too. Nobody wants to dedicate a whole night to being in station and then not turn a wheel for weeks on end.
The biggest bugaboo will be call volume, or lack thereof.
If a member signs up for a shift and is reasonably sure that he/she will see some action, they'll make sure they're available. If not, they start to gamble with their duty shifts (it's just a trip to the store...), or just stop signing up.
I'm not sure how many volunteers can cover one 24 hour stretch other than on weekends. Jobs and all, you know.
Perhaps taking 24 hours of call per month - say, three eight hour shifts, or two 12's. Some folks are perfectly happy taking the same day/night every week month in and month out.
Some people are perfectly willing to respond any time they are available, but don't want to tie themselves down.
Enforcement can be tough - for all the reasons listed above, and especially if you're a small department. Have you done a theoretical schedule to see if you can meet your goal?
You might need to take a look at your call volume vs time-of-day and day-of-week and set some target periods when you really need the staffing as opposed to the times when you can usually get one anyhow.
that one line there concerns me a bit depending on the call. I have made calls by myself on my vfd but am very conscious of my environment and luckily those calls were in the day. Making it a requirement with only one person on duty I would look at a lot harder
Originally Posted by jmd2323
The Vol Ambulance Co I used to belong to had a requirement (I think it may have been in the By-Laws even) that in order to remain an active member you had to sign up for 4 shifts a month, I think it was.....for 24 hours total.
There was a schedule posted at the VAC, and people woiuld fill it in - what was nice was that I could do 2 overnight shifts - 4-12, 12-8 - and be done for the month. Of course, you could also sign up for additional shifts if you wanted to.
We did have sleeping quarters, and also a full kitchen at the VAC - usually for an evening shift it would be worked out ahead of time that someone would cook a 'real' dinner.....
Of course, never failed - 630am on Monday morning (I usually did Sun nights) a BS call would come in to make me late for work!
What sort of call volume do you think would be enough to make it worthwhile for guys to work shifts in-station?
Our combo dept. doesn't have any sort of minimum duty time requirement for the volunteers (we respond from home), but I've thought it would be a good idea to require at least 1 8-hour shift per month, but we average only about 2 calls a day (almost all EMS) which would mean a whole lot of shifts with nothing happening. And even if something did happen, the on-duty paid guys would be doing most of the heavy lifting in return for the couple of times a year you might actually be on duty when a fire call came in and having the extra manpower on hand immediately would make a difference.
A couple of calls per shift might make it worthwhile - keeping in mind that whole things-come-in-threes concept. As long as the folks aren't sitting on their duffs watching TV for 6-8 hours at a time.
If there is sufficient, relatively constant, call volume, a shift with no calls will be seen as an anomoly.
Our local ambulance runs mostly with a paid medic and a volunteer driver, sometimes plus one or two other EMT's/helpers. At around 1000 dispatches a year, most folks can count on going out the door at least once during their shift, so interest stays fairly high. Again, a shift without a call is considered a vacation, not another boring day at the squad.
Another consideration is all that idle time. Coming up with shift duty lists might help stave off the boredom. Include the routine stuff - inventories, cleaning, equipment review. Of course, you'll have to deal with the "they didn't do their stuff" business, but it could be worth it if you can get out the door quickly on a regular basis.
Another activity that could prove productive would be providing training opportunities, be they on-line (assuming you have Internet available) or in-house. Having incentives for accountable (ie, there's a test) training completed would help there, and your EMS folks may be able to complete CME's that way, too.
Make sure they have all the "comforts of home," too. You don't need a gourmet kitchen, but a fridge and a microwave, plus a way to make coffee, will surely be plusses.
As tree said, a couple calls a shift is usually enough.. Again, mainly this is so that guys see the benefit to being at the station. If they are there to run calls and there are no calls, pretty soon they are going to start questioning the point.. There's an inverse relationship between call volume and drama.
Originally Posted by auxman
I've never been in a duty environment where paid and volunteer staff is co-mingled. I'm in a combo department but the two groups are out of different stations. I know there are a few places around that have the two types on the same truck and they make it work. I'd imagine they're situations where they have 1-2 paid guys supplemented with volunteers and both groups rely on eachother.
As a tangent, I can see a problem if you have a full paid crew and are also asking for an additional volunteer crew to be in station unless you have a significant call volume that would require both crews out consistently. If you have two crews, and 1 calls who goes? Or rather, who stays? The guys who are being paid to be there, or the guys who are paying with their time to be there? No real right answer. If the paid crew goes then the volunteer crew can rightfully ask "Why am I wasting my time being here?".. similarly if the volunteer crew goes the taxpayer can rightfully ask "Why are we paying you guys to be here"..
In our case its a situation of having short-staff career crews so if vols came in they would go out with the career crew on their engine. Definetely not enough need to have one of the vol engines/trucks staffed on a regular basis.
One of the services I volunteer for has a shift schedule, 6am to 6pm and 6pm to 6am, each volunteer must pick up 24 or 36 hrs of call time per month. If they take a shift and cant be in town for the time they have to call and get someone else to cover it. There is an EMT and a driver for each shift. Works pretty good, I volunteer when no one can pick up the time or they are really hurting for people. The thing that keeps the volunteers coming back is the stipen and the fact that if the service doesnt have anyone to respond the state will shut the service down, so if the EMT's and Driver's want a service right in town they better be there. Not sure what other SOG's they have for discipline if someone doesnt show up since im more of a ''part time'' volunteer.
We have bunk space available at our Central Station if any of the volunteers wants to ride out.
On average, we get 3-4 during the day and 2-3 at night to supplement our 2-man shift crew.