The unique scheduling requirements of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) present many challenges to employee shift scheduling. People in your community depend on EMS personnel and 911 dispatchers, particularly when every second counts, as scheduling conflicts and staffing shortages can have dire impacts on our communities.
It’s nearly impossible for our communities to function without EMS personnel and 911 dispatchers. Both of these public safety industries work hand-in-hand with law enforcement, firefighters, corrections and security. Because of their importance, it’s critical for EMS agencies and 911 dispatch centers to use a scheduling system that mitigates any chance of risk and errors.
Scheduling challenges for 911 dispatchers
One of the leading causes of staffing turnover at emergency dispatch centers is burnout. It’s difficult for emergency medical dispatchers (EMD) to receive breaks between their calls, leading them to be overworked and exhausted. According to one study, dispatch employees need breaks and gaps between calls to decompress and manage their stress to avoid burnout. However, taking breaks and gaps between calls is difficult due to the mandatory 24/7 call coverage. Moreover, the nature of an EMD’s job is extremely challenging, as they spend their entire shift helping people who are in the most panicked moment of their lives.
Emergency dispatching requires an efficient system to manage employees and avoid overwork and fatigue. By implementing scheduling software, 911 dispatch centers can simplify their daily scheduling, ensure minimum coverage levels are met and continue to make employee wellness a priority.
Scheduling challenges for EMS
Union and FLSA rules place restrictions on work hours for emergency services, making it challenging for some agencies to reach minimum coverage levels for short-staffed shifts. If an EMS agency is understaffed, they also run the risk of exceeding overtime budgets to reach minimum coverage levels.
Additional scheduling challenges faced by administrators include:
- Keeping track of overtime assignments
- Preventing human fatigue
- Scheduling for vacation and time-off
- Scheduling training assignments
- Organizing compensatory time
- Creating volunteer schedules
Moreover, EMS schedulers must ensure qualified personnel are scheduled at the correct time and place. Managing all of these requirements, tasks and protocols can prove to be extremely challenging if schedulers create schedules by pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets.
How Does Scheduling Software Help EMS and Dispatch?
Scheduling software gives your organization full visibility into their schedules. It also increases communication and assigns shifts intelligently in order to avoid employee burnout. In an industry as demanding as public safety, scheduling software will be of a huge benefit to your organization. Here are four other ways in which scheduling software helps EMS and dispatch:
Scheduling software simplifies scheduling for EMS and 911 Dispatch
Scheduling software simplifies daily scheduling for EMS agencies and 911 dispatch centers. The software automatically creates schedules and assigns shifts based on availability, training requirements, seniority, task lists, agency rules and more. Instead of spending hours creating schedules, EMS and dispatch schedulers can have their schedules created in a matter of minutes.
Scheduling software also gives the entire agency or dispatch center full visibility over their schedules. This means EMS personnel and dispatch employees can bid for shifts or request time off from their smartphones or browser. Empowering employees with online scheduling self-service access improves agency communication and simplifies the scheduling process.
Scheduling software assigns qualified personnel to the right shifts
Many EMS shifts have qualification requirements, making it mandatory for certain shifts to be staffed with qualified personnel. Scheduling software helps EMS by automatically scheduling personnel who are trained and qualified for specific shifts. It also automatically balances the qualifications and training levels of each paramedic and emergency medical responder, ensuring skills and qualifications are evenly balanced across all shift rotations. By implementing scheduling software, your schedulers can ensure the right people are scheduled for the right shifts.
Scheduling software sends real-time reports and key scheduling insights
Gaining key insights, such as performance data, is important for EMS and 911 dispatch. Scheduling software gives you the ability to use reports and dashboards to run your agency smoothly, so you can mitigate risk and prevent potential scheduling issues from becoming problems.
Using these reports, you can make proactive decisions and changes to your future schedules. These reports can help your administrative team identify which scheduling rotations work best for your agency, identify where your overtime spending is going and determine how you can increase your agency’s efficiency.
Real-time reporting is another benefit of most scheduling software. If an issue arises on shift, you can receive real-time alerts through notifications or emails that are built for EMS agencies.
Using scheduling software, your agency can ensure minimum coverage levels are met
Meeting minimum staffing levels is critical for both EMS and 911 dispatch. For dispatch in particular, it’s important to ensure adequate shift coverage to handle high call volumes. Dispatch employees are the bridge between the public and our emergency services. Minimum coverage levels must be met in order to respond to emergencies and protect our communities.
Implementing scheduling software allows your agency to fill open assignments quicker than if you were to be scheduling manually. With scheduling software, you can easily post shifts for sign-up online and have your shifts assigned within a matter of seconds. Scheduling software will also send an alert weeks in advance if you’re at risk of not reaching minimum coverage levels. By identifying potential scheduling issues weeks in advance, your agency can fix these scheduling issues before they become problems.
The bottom line
By implementing scheduling software, your organization will benefit from a more streamlined and efficient scheduling process. Reach out to our team today to learn more about the benefits of scheduling software for EMS agencies and dispatch centers.