How many consecutive hours should an EMT/paramedic be required to work? That is the question EMS workers from Beaufort County, South Carolina are raising following months of excessive mandatory overtime. According to The Island Packet, Beaufort County EMS workers have a long history of working significant amounts of overtime. In fact, between 2015 and 2020 the county projected overtime costs of around $1 million per year, yet the county actually spent twice that amount. According to some county EMS employees, this problem has gotten worse over the past several months. Now, 48-hour work shifts have become the norm for some. These workers are sounding the alarm.
County officials acknowledge that there are 10 unfilled full-time EMS positions within the department. According to County EMS Director Donna Ownby, herself a 38-year department veteran, the county is looking to increase employees’ starting pay while enhancing recruitment efforts. County EMTs’ hourly wages range from $13-19 per hour and paramedics range between $15-21 per hour. More recently, the county has even started offering medics and EMTs lump sum incentives for picking up extra shifts in addition to their scheduled work shifts.