A Day That Never Ends

One of the biggest challenges of working in EMS is there’s never truly a day off.  There’s no reason to put locks on the doors of our industry because someone is always there.  If there’s not a call going on, there’s the potential that call is going to happen.  There can never be a lapse in coverage when it comes to providing EMS in the field, and when making the transition to management, we need to not lose sight of that.

The “normal” world exists on a typical 9-5 schedule Monday thru Friday with holidays and weekends off, and managers in EMS seem to stick to that schedule as well.  There is a lot to be done behind the scene to keep things operating smoothly.  There are budgets to manage, capital purchases to make, people to hire, and meetings to attend with stake holders and customers alike.  Additionally though there are people to manage, and those other sixteen hours of the day should not be overlooked.

A forty hour a week manager is only there for about a quarter of their company’s work week.  They are missing three quarters of the work week, and as a result potentially missing two thirds to three quarters of their work force.  Evening and overnight crews can feel neglected, and even run the risk of missing out on employee appreciation functions due to an unwillingness to come in off the clock for such events.

Keeping a presence in the field is a positive thing as well.  A manager never has to put on a set of gloves or lay hands on a patient, but imagine how you would feel if you walked out of an ER to find your boss cleaning the back of your truck, or they carried your oxygen bag out of a house for you.  Its small gestures like that which will make people’s days easier.

Normally, I look to a lot of EMS leaders for advice and guidance.  Now, it’s my turn, as a mid-level manager to share some with them.

1.  Remember, the work doesn’t stop when you stop working — Things keep going when you’re at home.  Whether it’s the evenings, the weekends, or the overnight, the calls keep coming in, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that the people who are left to manage that work have everything that they need.

2.  Holidays are important to everyone — During a class at EMS Today taught by Matt Zavadsky from MedStar EMS in Fort Worth Texas, he talked about how he and his management team would cook and serve meals to his employees on holidays.  They would even involve their families in the event as well.  The act of seeing people sacrifice part of their holiday to make mine better would go a long way with me.

3.  Have a presence outside the office — Successful EMS leaders are ones who stay in touch with their roots.  Get out there and let your people know you appreciate them.  Drop in on calls, stop by at the hospital, and put supporting your crews first.  This isn’t something that has to consume your entire week, but a few hours here and there out of the office could go a long way in showing your people that you’re still in touch with what they are doing.

As a leader in EMS, it’s your responsibility to make sure that all of your employees are provided for no matter what shift they are working.  The commitment, therefore, needs to expand beyond a forty hour week.  Its not necessary for a manager to be there 24/7, that is why there are field supervisors and mid-level managers, but taking an extra couple of hours on weekends, evenings, overnights and holidays can go a long way to improving your image within your workforce.

One comment

  1. I will refer to this often,

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