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Oct 11, 2017
Local 95 Continues to Fight Wage Compression and Staff Shortages at
UPDATE: IAEP National Director Phil Petit spoke on Local 95‘s growing concerns about EMS staffing, wage structure, and quality of care. Read the full story from the Worcester Business Journal by clicking here. *Note: This unit is comprised of paramedics, a detail that was not confirmed before the article was posted.
(Worcester, Mass.) - Paramedics with Worcester EMS/UMass Memorial Medical Center are increasingly concerned that the combination of rising call volumes and shrinking staff could threaten the quality of service area residents expect from emergency services from the region’s flagship hospital.
Staffing issues in the past year have plagued the department, as more and more full-time paramedics leave the service and fewer applicants enter the profession to replace them. These first responders, members of International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (IAEP) Local R1-95, continue to work without a contract as they negotiate with management to find a workable solution for everyone involved.
“Our members are worried that other agencies cannot provide the strong quality services WEMS does, the service that Worcester residents expect and deserve,” said Philip Petit, national director for the IAEP. “We think management in the EMS department understands the issues and they want a solid solution, too. We’re concerned that the corporate team at UMMMC is so focused on the bottom line that they’re missing the real-time issues that staffing shortages can create.”
Paramedics have reported that ambulances have been off the roads during some shifts because there are not enough paramedics on hand to staff them. The remaining EMS professionals are anxious over the risks inherent in using extended or double shifts as a normal staffing tool. In addition, the number of calls being passed on regularly to outside agencies continues to rise.
“The residents of Worcester have come to expect a high level of care, and with our staffing issues we’re not getting to all the calls that are coming in to WEMS that we know we should be covering,” continued Petit. “These first responders take their jobs very seriously and they care a great deal for the community they serve. They want to be on scene and they want to be helping every patient possible.”
Paramedics with WEMS are also facing growing wage compression as management seeks to attract new paramedics by bringing them in at a higher rate. The problem has compounded over recent years, prompting many long-time first responders to leave the service permanently. Petit said the loss of the expertise those veterans brought to the profession is devastating. “The wisdom and skill they modeled for their newer colleagues are gone. We can’t lose any more.”
“We are working hard at the table to make sure our members aren’t just numbers on a UMMMC chart,” said Petit. “We know that we can fix these issues and help maintain WEMS’ long and proud history of service for the greater Worcester area.”
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