The 24 hour shift is a dragon that needs to be slain. I hear way too many EMT’s tell me that they like 24 hour shifts and prefer that they be scheduled back to back. I mean this sounds great to me, do my 48 and have 5 days off. I mean who cares if it actually risks people’s lives including you or your partners.
A big problem I have with this type of scheduling, and we have to do it at my current job, but we are working on ending it, is that it makes EMS into a hobby not a profession. There are people that do EMS as a hobby. They are called volunteers and many of them d a damn good job because they want to. But if EMS is how you earn your living, you should look at it as a profession and treat it as such.
As someone who is officially a dinosaur, I ask those of you who have done this for a while on 24 hour shifts, are you as good near the end of shift as you are at the beginning? Most of us will tell you no. Think about it, you have either been awake for nearly 24 hour or you were woken up from sleep that was interrupted by other crew’s tones, radios, or telephones. You or your equally tired partner are driving in excess of posted speed limits weaving in and out of traffic, and avoiding obstacles.
There is a link between sleep deprivation and depression in EMS personnel. Many of the people I work with, including myself, have been on anti-depressants. Most of us consider this due to the on the job stressors, and they do contribute, but getting more rest would improve the situation as well as our overall health. I have a link on this below.
If you were to come in at a set period of time, you do 8 to 12 hours and you go home. You and your partner are well rested and are able to perform your skills in a prompt and effective manner. You finish your shift and are able to leave to go home. No more listening to radios and telephones at night. You an EMS professional, so you goal should be better patient care and outcomes. In the fight for EMS 2.0 remember that we have to be able to perform at a level that ensures we are not making more victims of death by paramedic assistance.