A firestorm may be brewing for the Trousdale County Emergency Management Services (EMS) as it faces critical personnel shortages and overworked employees.
At its meeting on Wednesday night, the Trousdale County Emergency Services Committee conferred on the issue and agreed that something must be done soon to give overworked EMS workers relief.
“In an interesting turn of events, Mr. (Trousdale County Emergency Management Agency Director Matt) Batey sent me one of his paramedics (last) week,” said Trousdale County Mayor Jack McCall.
“But I wasn’t sure why a paramedic was being sent to me. We had a lengthy discussion about overtime, and it was very enlightening to me, because I saw a man in my office who was just about burned out.
“At one time, back several months ago, he worked eight 24-hour shifts in a row. He has consistently worked four and five 24-hour shifts in a row, which not only puts the county at risk, but it puts his health at risk.”
Although EMS has recently hired new personnel, unfortunately, as the new employees have come on board, others have exited.
“We had a few people resign and move on,” said Batey. “So, we are back to where we (started).”
According to Trousdale County Emergency Services Committee Chair Leslie Overman, with the personnel shortage, employee overtime has become out of control.
“I just want to note on the emergency management services (EMS) payroll, all the overtime,” said Overman. “It looks like (overtime) is at 79.8% for the year.”
McCall added, “I don’t know if it is my responsibility to fix this, but we’re going to have to get some more help, even if we have to advertise for PRN (as is needed) at $25 an hour. It is to our advantage to pay that, rather than paying $30 an hour for 208 hours of overtime in a two-week period.”
The mayor went on to express his concern for the EMS workers’ health as well as the county’s liability regarding the issue.
“I’m telling you ... I’m worried about these guys,” said McCall.
“I am not so much concerned about the money that is being overpaid as much as their health and their family’s health and the exposure the county has to liability.”
Although no definite changes were implemented at the meeting on Wednesday night, the emergency services committee has agreed to continue discussing the EMS issues at its meeting next month.
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