Breaking News
February 23, 2019 - Hepatocellular carcinoma diagnosis, prognosis and treatment may improve by identifying a protein
February 23, 2019 - The American Heart Association issues new reference toolkit for healthcare providers
February 23, 2019 - Studies explore physiological dangers that climate change will have on animal life
February 23, 2019 - Penn study reveals increase in health-related internet searches before ER visits
February 23, 2019 - Intensive therapy during early stages of MS leads to better long-term outcomes
February 23, 2019 - Prenatal Fluconazole Exposure Increases Neonatal Risks
February 23, 2019 - Mental Health Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
February 23, 2019 - Study suggests birth mechanics are part of the process that leads to autism
February 23, 2019 - Unhealthy diet linked to poor mental health
February 23, 2019 - Study gives a snapshot of crocodile evolution
February 23, 2019 - Research finds steep rise in self-poisonings among young people
February 23, 2019 - American Gastroenterological Association announces “AGA Future Leaders Program”
February 23, 2019 - Scientists uncover new mechanisms regulating neural stem cells
February 23, 2019 - Combinations of certain insecticides turn out to be lethal for honeybees
February 23, 2019 - AHA News: Why Are Black Women at Higher Risk of Dying From Pregnancy Complications?
February 23, 2019 - NIMH » Anxiety Disorders
February 23, 2019 - Autistic people urgently need access to tailored mental health support
February 23, 2019 - Newly designed molecule could benefit people with Friedrich’s Ataxia
February 23, 2019 - Chinese CRISPR twins may have better cognition and memory
February 23, 2019 - Study finds new genetic clues associated with asthma in African ancestry populations
February 23, 2019 - Fetal signaling pathways may offer future opportunities to treat lung damage
February 23, 2019 - Early-stage osteoarthritis drug wins prestigious innovation award
February 23, 2019 - Researchers report positive findings with dasotraline for ADHD in children ages 6-12
February 23, 2019 - News study reanalyzes the effects of noncaloric sweeteners on gut microbiota
February 23, 2019 - New device allows scientists to reproduce blow effects on the heart in lab
February 23, 2019 - Holy herb identified as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
February 23, 2019 - New technology platform digitally counts growth factors in single cells
February 23, 2019 - Surgery and other treatments offer viable options for adult scoliosis
February 23, 2019 - Reduced antibody adaptability may make the elderly more vulnerable to influenza
February 23, 2019 - Researchers find increased rates of CRC screening in Kentucky after Medicaid expansion
February 23, 2019 - Neighborhood income, education associated with risk of disability progression in MS patients
February 23, 2019 - Endocrine Society opposes new rule that restricts access to Title X Family Planning Program
February 23, 2019 - 2019 guidelines for management of patients with atrial fibrillation
February 23, 2019 - Surprise rheumatoid arthritis discovery points to new treatment for joint inflammation
February 23, 2019 - A just-right fix for a tiny heart
February 23, 2019 - UMass Amherst scientist explores role of citrus peel in decreasing gut inflammation
February 23, 2019 - Owlstone Medical and Shanghai Renji Hospital collaborate to initiate breath biopsy lung cancer trial
February 23, 2019 - AMSBIO’s comprehensive portfolio of knock-out cell lines and lysates
February 23, 2019 - New app reliably determines physicians’ skills in forming accurate, efficient diagnoses
February 23, 2019 - Peripheral nerve injury can trigger the onset and spread of ALS, shows study
February 23, 2019 - Researchers uncover mechanisms that prevent tooth replacement in mice
February 23, 2019 - Once-a-day capsule offers new way to reduce symptoms of chronic breathlessness
February 23, 2019 - FDA Adds Boxed Warning for Increased Risk of Death with Gout Medicine Uloric (febuxostat)
February 23, 2019 - Phone-based intervention aids rheumatoid arthritis care
February 23, 2019 - Opioid epidemic makes eastern inroads and targets African-Americans
February 23, 2019 - New identified biomarker predicts patients who might benefit from HER2-targeted agents
February 23, 2019 - Study offers new insights into mechanisms of changes in erythrocytes under stress
February 23, 2019 - Antipsychotic polypharmacy may be beneficial for schizophrenia patients
February 23, 2019 - Researchers investigate how marijuana and tobacco co-use affects quit attempts by smokers
February 23, 2019 - Patients with diabetes mellitus have high risk of stable ischemic heart disease
February 23, 2019 - Transparency on healthcare prices played key role in Arizona health system’s turnaround
February 23, 2019 - A comprehensive, multinational review of peppers around the world
February 23, 2019 - Study finds modest decrease in burnout among physicians
February 23, 2019 - A simple change can drastically reduce unnecessary tests for urinary tract infections
February 23, 2019 - Deep Learning-Enhanced Device Detects Diabetic Retinopathy
February 23, 2019 - Researchers discover new binding partner for amyloid precursor protein
February 23, 2019 - Modest decrease seen in burnout among physicians, researchers say | News Center
February 23, 2019 - Transplanting bone marrow of young mice into old mice prevents cognitive decline
February 23, 2019 - Mogrify to accelerate novel IP and cell therapies using $3.7m USD funding
February 23, 2019 - Johns Hopkins study describes cells that may help speed bone repair
February 23, 2019 - Scientists demonstrate influence of food odors on proteostasis
February 23, 2019 - Researchers unlock the secret behind reproduction of fish called ‘Mary’
February 23, 2019 - Acupuncture Could Help Ease Menopausal Symptoms
February 23, 2019 - Researchers use AI to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s
February 23, 2019 - On recovery, vulnerability and ritual: An exhibit in white | News Center
February 23, 2019 - Memory Stored in Unexpected Region of the Brain
February 23, 2019 - Several health experts worldwide gather at EUDONORGAN event
February 23, 2019 - Discovery of potent compound in native California shrub may lead to treatment for Alzheimer’s
February 22, 2019 - Researchers create new map of the brain’s own immune system
February 22, 2019 - ICHE’s reviews on surgical infections, unnecessary urine tests, and nurses’ role in antibiotic stewardship
February 22, 2019 - UK Research and Innovation invests £200 million to create new generation of AI leaders
February 22, 2019 - Takeda collaboration to boost fight against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases
February 22, 2019 - Heavy drinking may change DNA, leading to increased craving for alcohol
February 22, 2019 - U.S. opioid deaths jump fourfold in 20 years; epidemic shifts to Eastern states | News Center
February 22, 2019 - 5 Questions with William Turner on Diversity in Medicine
February 22, 2019 - HHS Finalizes Rule Seeking To Expel Planned Parenthood From Family Planning Program
February 22, 2019 - Researchers uncover biochemical pathway that may help identify drugs to treat Alzheimer’s
February 22, 2019 - Biologist uses new grant to find ways to eliminate schistosomiasis
February 22, 2019 - Bag-mask ventilation to help patients breathe during intubation prevents complications
February 22, 2019 - AbbVie Announces New Drug Application Accepted for Priority Review by FDA for Upadacitinib for Treatment of Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis
Voters to settle dispute over ambulance employee break times

Voters to settle dispute over ambulance employee break times

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

If private-ambulance workers take a break from work, even for 10 minutes, it can mean the difference between life and death.

So, they routinely accept emergency calls during their meal and rest breaks — just as firefighters, policemen and other public emergency workers do.

But labor laws guarantee most California workers uninterrupted breaks, and multiple lawsuits are challenging whether private ambulance companies have the right to interrupt their employees’ breaks.

In November, voters will resolve the issue. Proposition 11 — a measure backed and funded by American Medical Response (AMR), California’s largest private ambulance company — would require private-ambulance employees to remain on call during their breaks.

“If a dispatcher calls and the closest ambulance is only a few blocks away, they’ll be reachable and ready to respond,” said Marie Brichetto, spokeswoman for the campaign advocating the ballot measure. “In times of emergency, seconds will make a difference.”

Proposition 11 also would require private ambulance companies to provide their employees with mental health coverage and training to respond to natural disasters, mass shootings and other emergencies.

The ballot measure would apply to the state’s estimated 17,000 private ambulance employees, including dispatchers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, who answer about three-quarters of the state’s emergency calls, according to a report by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. The initiative doesn’t affect public ambulance workers because the labor codes governing rest and meal breaks apply only to private-sector workers.

Opponents of the measure, including a California lawmaker who works part time as an EMT, call it a “misleading” effort by the industry to save money on staffing — and get out of potentially bank-breaking lawsuits.

The initiative isn’t about public safety, but rather “trying to extract machine-level work from human beings,” said Mike Diaz, an AMR employee in Antelope Valley and president of the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics Local 77.

For AMR, “the most efficient ambulance crew is one that is on a call for every hour of your 24-hour shift,” he said. “We’re not machines. We need rest.”

The initiative grew out of a 2016 state Supreme Court ruling in Augustus v. ABM Security, which found that a California security company had failed to meet its legal obligation to provide breaks because its workers had to remain on call.

Given the similarities between the private security and ambulance industries, the case is likely to be applied to private EMTs and paramedics, the analyst’s report concluded.

AMR is already facing at least two lawsuits from employees who say they were denied breaks.

If the ambulance companies lose in court, they can no longer assume their employees are available during their breaks and would have to increase staffing — which could cost the industry around $100 million a year, the report said.

Proposition 11 is the industry’s effort to avoid that. The ballot measure also includes a provision that would effectively nullify the pending lawsuits.

So far, AMR is the only donor on either side of the measure. The company has poured about $3.6 million into a committee to support the measure, and the committee has used about $3 million of that, mostly to get the measure on the ballot. AMR declined to comment for this article and referred inquiries to Brichetto, the Proposition 11 campaign spokeswoman.

Some ambulance companies have offered muted support for the measure, while others have remained silent.

Edward Guzman, CEO and general manager of the nonprofit Sierra Ambulance Company in eastern Madera County, said he supports Proposition 11. But he acknowledged there are some private companies that overwork their employees.

“Some of the urban providers … were running their people into the ground and not providing adequate rest or breaks,” he said. “There are players that will continue to do that because they don’t want to add extra units into the mix.”

This summer, Sierra added an additional ambulance and paramedics to its daytime rotation to respond to higher demand, and employees have a strong collective bargaining agreement that protects them from overwork or abuse, Guzman said.

Still, he fears that his smaller company could get slammed with lawsuits if Proposition 11 doesn’t pass. The measure protects Sierra “from unnecessary and expensive litigation,” he said.

County officials across the state cannot take political positions, but some worry that if the measure fails and lawsuits against the companies succeed, the cost of hiring more ambulance workers could be passed on to them. Some counties hire private ambulance companies to supplement local fire departments and public ambulances.

“Somebody’s gonna have to pay for that,” said Cathy Chidester, director of Emergency Medical Services for Los Angeles County. “That [cost is] going to go back to the general public.”

Opposition to the ballot measure is largely unorganized but includes some unionized emergency response workers and lawyers representing the plaintiffs who are suing AMR. They argue that the proposition won’t change how private-ambulance employees operate, because their first instinct is to help people in distress.

“If I see something happen in front of me while I’m having my meal or rest break, I’m gonna respond. That’s our duty. That’s our calling,” said state Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), who works part time as an EMT. “We’re not gonna sit there and watch somebody die just because we’re eating.”

Rodriguez and other opponents say the Proposition 11 campaign’s emphasis on public safety masks its true intentions: to maximize private companies’ profit margins.

“It’s a little misleading,” Diaz said.

EMT and paramedic workloads vary greatly depending on the county and employers. Diaz, who works in the Antelope Valley region of Los Angeles County, said his area is chronically understaffed. But Dandy Mendoza and Esther Nungaray, who work for American Ambulance in Fresno County, said they take an average of six to seven calls during a 12-hour shift — a number they consider reasonable.

“I don’t really have a strong opinion because I really like my job. I show up to take care of people,” Mendoza said. “I try to stay out of politics.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Alex Leeds Matthews: [email protected]

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles