What do days long shifts look like?

aly

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I ran across an Instagram post from an EMT and he talked about not having been home for 5 days since beginning his shift. I also saw that some time between those 5 days of being at the station, he went to Disneyland. I know that there are 24hr, 48hr, and even 72hr shifts (if not more) in EMS but it made me curious. What do those long shifts look like for you? How long are your breaks? How do breaks even work? How well do you even sleep?
 

NPO

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I ran across an Instagram post from an EMT and he talked about not having been home for 5 days since beginning his shift. I also saw that some time between those 5 days of being at the station, he went to Disneyland. I know that there are 24hr, 48hr, and even 72hr shifts (if not more) in EMS but it made me curious. What do those long shifts look like for you? How long are your breaks? How do breaks even work? How well do you even sleep?
It varies. A lot.

Many places are doing away with shifts longer than 12 hours as more data suggests it's detrimental effects. However for many areas that's not operationally feasible.

If you work more than 24 hours you generally are available for calls during the full shift. You eat, sleep and rest when you can.

Some more proactive agencies have implemented fatigue management policies that allow crews to request uninterrupted sleep if they are becoming too tired to operate safely. Understand however that this is the exception and not the rule.

Even more rare are fatige management policies for shifts less than 24 hours. My agency is rolling out fatige management programs right now, and I've never heard of anywhere else that does this on 12 hour shifts.
 
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StCEMT

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If anyone is doing 5 days, or even 2-3, they are rural with some exceptions of certain 48 hour trucks. The most we do is 16 and I'm ready to tap out at the end of an average 16. The people who can reasonably do a few days straight likely run as many calls in that time as I do in 12, maybe even less.
 
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aly

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It varies. A lot.

Many places are doing away with shifts longer than 12 hours as more data suggests it's detrimental effects. However for many areas that's not operationally feasible.

If you work more than 24 hours you generally are available for calls during the full shift. You eat, sleep and rest when you can.

Some more proactive agencies have implemented fatigue management policies that allow crews to request uninterrupted sleep if they are becoming too tired to operate safely. Understand however that this is the exception and not the rule.

Even more rare are fatige management policies for shifts less than 24 hours. My agency is rolling out fatige management programs right now, and I've never heard of anywhere else that does this on 12 hour shifts.

It’s great that agencies are becoming proactive on the matter, whether by doing away with or by implementing policies such as the one you’ve mentioned. Certainly a lot of danger.
 
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aly

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If anyone is doing 5 days, or even 2-3, they are rural with some exceptions of certain 48 hour trucks. The most we do is 16 and I'm ready to tap out at the end of an average 16. The people who can reasonably do a few days straight likely run as many calls in that time as I do in 12, maybe even less.
It was urban. However, i’m beginning to think that he most likely just stayed at the station on whatever days he had off and went back on shift after. I’m still curious about the different shifts and how they manage to pull through such long hours, especially those in busy areas.
 
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aly

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Secondary question: For the agencies with station houses, on 24s and longer, how much of that shift is spent at the station and not posting? Assuming they have post assignments.
 

DrParasite

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What do those long shifts look like for you? How long are your breaks? How do breaks even work? How well do you even sleep?
The longest shift I ever did was 24 hours, in a rural/suburban environment. I've seem some shifts that are 48 hours long. 72 sounds insane. The longest I have ever worked (outside of a disaster is 3 back to back to back 12 hour shifts, for different agencies. Did that twice, never again.

We don't get breaks. you are on the truck for the duration of the shift, and you don't get any predefined breaks. Your "breaks" are your downtime, which is any time when you aren't on a call.

I sleep ok, when I can turn the radio off so I don't hear the chatter in the county, and am alerted by my truck's pager.

If that poster is away from home for 5 days, and working in an urban setting, than they are chosing to not go home. He hasn't been working for 5 days straight. He went to disneyland, he went to his gf's house, he went to his mistress's house, and slept on a buddy's couch, who knows, but he but he wasn't working for 5 days, on back to back 24 hour shifts.

Personally, I like sleeping in my own bed.
 

DesertMedic66

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Our fire departments which are urban and very busy have normal shifts of 72-96 hours on duty. If there are fires going on they will be on duty for 30+ days at a time back filling shifts.
 

DrParasite

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30 consecutive days at work during 24s? a very busy 96 hour shift? so individuals they are handling 80 or so runs in 96 hours?

Even for a 72 hour shift, if you are doing on 40-50 runs, including one structure fire, during the tour...... I can't imagine how horrible they feel around hour 60..

Where is this?
 

chriscemt

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I ran across an Instagram post from an EMT and he talked about not having been home for 5 days since beginning his shift. I also saw that some time between those 5 days of being at the station, he went to Disneyland. I know that there are 24hr, 48hr, and even 72hr shifts (if not more) in EMS but it made me curious. What do those long shifts look like for you? How long are your breaks? How do breaks even work? How well do you even sleep?

I know I'm missing the point, but in order to garner sympathy, he had to sandbag his efforts/responsibilities to include a vacation to Disneyland?
 

DesertMedic66

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30 consecutive days at work during 24s? a very busy 96 hour shift? so individuals they are handling 80 or so runs in 96 hours?

Even for a 72 hour shift, if you are doing on 40-50 runs, including one structure fire, during the tour...... I can't imagine how horrible they feel around hour 60..

Where is this?
Pretty much all of the state fire department for CA.
 

DrParasite

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You mean the Cal Fire forestry guys? or a municipal or county FD? I didn't find any reference to a state FD that answered calls for an urban area in a quick google search
 

DesertMedic66

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You mean the Cal Fire forestry guys? or a municipal or county FD? I didn't find any reference to a state FD that answered calls for an urban area in a quick google search
CalFire has contracts with many cities and counties to provide service. In my area of SoCal they have a mix of duties. They have city based engines which respond to anything and everything from medical aids to state fires, brush crews which respond to the same stuff, and didicated wildland units.

During the summer months they will force everyone on and revoke all PTO requests even if they were already approved. It’s so bad there is even a Facebook meme account called Forcey the Bear who comes out of hibernation during the summer months to screw your life and steal your wife.
 

CALEMT

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If there are fires going on they will be on duty for 30+ days at a time back filling shifts.

26 days straight is the most I've done... ran 4 calls in those 26 days too... Groundhog Day is just as or a little worse than running all the time.

steal your wife.

That would be Sancho... not Forcey.
 

CALEMT

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FD that answered calls for an urban area in a quick google search

They hold some for of contract in virtually every county in CA. There are the few exceptions like LACo, Orange Co., Marin Co, Alameda Co... Just depends on the county for how much area Cal Fire has. Cal Fire Riverside for example has pretty much all of Riverside co. with exception to Hemet, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Murrieta. Cal Fire San Diego has most of the county/ state responsibility/ response area. Up north Cal Fire Butte unit holds most of the county from my understanding. Cal Fire Tulare is only responsible for the wildland (ie state responsibility area), no county contract. From my understanding Tulare is the only Cal Fire unit that has no contract with a county. Scheduling is same across the board 72/96. It is the same department after all, just has the largest response area in the nation.
 

Generic

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During the summer months they will force everyone on and revoke all PTO requests even if they were already approved.

Not true. CAL FIRE can hold people on duty if they are on regular days off. If you have approved vacation, you cannot be held on duty including your normal days off before or after your normal duty days. The only time that can be cancelled is if the governor declares a state of emergency. That last happened during the fire siege of 2003.

CAL FIRE has gone from a department in rural areas only to those rural areas that have become urban areas and the schedule has not kept up with that. Since it is state government, it is hard to get a better schedule because of politics and having approval from CALHR, the governor and the legislature at the same time. I believe there is a decent chance in the next few years for that to happen.
 

DrParasite

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Interesting.... I didn't know they did anything more than forestry work. Learn something new
26 days straight is the most I've done... ran 4 calls in those 26 days too... Groundhog Day is just as or a little worse than running all the time.
yes, but it's great time to work on HW, finish a degree, watch a lot of movies, sleep, go shopping, read a book, take online classes, check out the sights, training, etc.

Since you gave one example (4 calls in 26 days......), I'd be curious how many calls the "very busy urban guys" urban crews get in 72 hours.....
 

Generic

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Since you gave one example (4 calls in 26 days......), I'd be curious how many calls the "very busy urban guys" urban crews get in 72 hours.....

The busiest engine company last year was about 5800 calls plus another 500 calls in their area that other engines had to run. That station added a medic patrol vehicle to it this year.
 

CALEMT

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I'd be curious how many calls the "very busy urban guys" urban crews get in 72 hours.....

I wish I had those statistics to give you. I know that on the riverside county fire website they post their calls by the day, not by station unfortunately. I will say this though. There is a big difference between schedule B (the wildland side) and schedule A (county contract side). My instance was special to say the least. It was 14 days forced on duty, I got forced into work on my day off, and it was a state wide staffing pattern for both schedule A and B (pre approved vacation still stood). Only the governor has this authority. Normally schedule A get's forced on staffing patters every once in a while and its mostly hold-overs until 1200 hours. Most of the force days are OT at other stations, which varies unit by unit, battalion by battalion.

That station added a medic patrol vehicle to it this year.

Wouldn't be 7 would it?
 
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