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Louisville Paramedic Blames Lack of Sleep and Suspension on Forced Overtime

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WLKY.com) - Two current employees of Metro EMS told WLKY News they've been so exhausted from mandatory overtime that they can't effectively perform their jobs.

The overtime issue is nothing new for Metro EMS; however, for the first time, current employees are putting their jobs on the line because of the problem.

"I want people in our service not to be tired. I don't want everybody to be mean and nasty and horrible anymore," said Patty Greer, who is on indefinite suspension without pay from Metro EMS.

Greer said she was suspended after she fell asleep at a patient's home Saturday night while entering information into her laptop.

"I had obviously leaned my head to look at the screen and that was it," she said.

According to records obtained by WLKY, in August, Metro EMS had $80,000 in scheduled overtime, but nearly triple that figure in non-scheduled overtime, when paramedics and EMTs on 12-hour shifts are held over at least four more hours.

The non-scheduled overtime of more than $224,000 is more than the previous August.

"We're being forced to work overtime when we're vastly too tired to do that," said paramedic Teresa Johnson.

"Safety issues really come into play at that point, and that's what bothers me the most," said Metro Councilman Kelly Downard.

In 2009, Col. Craig Rodgers told WLKY, "If anybody ever feels tired, too tired to work, we'll let them go, no questions asked."

But paramedic Johnson showed WLKY a written reprimand she received after at the end of a second 16-hour day in June when, she said, she was asked and cleared to leave.

"I was told at that time just because he said that on TV doesn't mean he wasn't going to hand down discipline if you did it," she said.

What does the Teamsters Union, which represents the paramedics and EMTs, think about mandatory overtime complaints?

According to a letter they said the union sent to them on Friday, they were warned about speaking to the media.

"I was surprised," Greer said. "I thought some of it sounded very threatening."

When asked what he thought would solve the issue, Downard said, "New management."

"I wouldn't want somebody 20 hours, 18 hours on duty to come to my house," Greer said.

Copyright 2011 by WLKY.com. ©2011 Hearst Properties Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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