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Limitation on mandatory overtime for EMS providers

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EMS Providers are asked to perform one of the most mentally and physically exhausting jobs within the medical field.  Most providers do not commit to this type of employment with strong financial gain as a motive. They enter the field for the satisfaction of being able to render aid to persons in need. Over the course of a provider's career, they are going to attempt to beat the odds and make it through to retirement without injury. The risk of injury is increased exponentially for not only the provider, but also their patients when adequate rest is not maintained. Unfortunately, some providers do not have that option.  Some providers are being mandated upwards of 70 hours per work week.  This is not only unsafe for the people we depend on to help us in a time of need, but also unsafe for the patient's for whom they are rendering care to.  

In 2009, the NYSNA was successful in their quest for similar legislation for nurses. They were able to protect themselves by getting Section 167 of the Labor Law signed into law. Below is an amended version of the same Section 167 of the Labor Law to include EMS providers as a sample of what the protection should look like.

Restrictions on hours of work for EMS Providers.

1. When used in this section:

a. "Health care employer" shall mean any individual, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly on behalf of or in the interest of the employer, which provides health care services (i) for a licensed or operated ambulance service pursuant to article thirty of the public health law, including any facility operated by the state, a political subdivision or a public corporation as defined by section sixty-six of the general construction law, or (ii) for an ambulance service operated by the state, a political subdivision or a public corporation as defined by section sixty-six of the general construction law, operated or licensed pursuant to the mental hygiene law, the education law or the correction law.

b. "EMS Provider" shall mean a certified emergency medical responder, emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician - advanced, emergency medical technician - critical care, or paramedic as defined by article thirty of the public health law who provides direct patient care.c. "Regularly scheduled work hours", including pre-scheduled on-call time and the time spent for the purpose of communicating shift reports regarding patient status necessary to ensure patient safety, shall mean those hours a EMS provider has agreed to work and is normally scheduled to work pursuant to the budgeted hours allocated to the EMS Provider’s position by the health care employer; and if no such allocation system exists, some other measure generally used by the health care employer to determine when an employee is minimally supposed to work, consistent with the collective bargaining agreement, if any. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit an employer to use on-call time as a substitute for mandatory overtime.

2. a. Notwithstanding any other provision of law no health care employer shall require an EMS provider to work more than that EMS provider's regularly scheduled work hours, except pursuant to subdivision three of this section.

b. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an EMS provider from voluntarily working overtime. 

3. The limitations provided for in this section shall not apply in the case of:

a. a health care disaster, such as a natural or other type of disaster that increases the need for health care personnel, unexpectedly affecting the county in which the EMS provider is employed or in a contiguous county; or

b. a federal, state or county declaration of emergency in effect in the county in which the EMS provider is employed or in a contiguous county; or

c. where a health care employer determines there is an emergency, necessary to provide safe patient care, in which case the health care employer shall, before requiring an on-duty employee to remain, make a good faith effort to have overtime covered on a voluntary basis, including, but not limited to, calling per diems, or requesting an additional day of work from off-duty employees, to the extent such staffing options exist. For the purposes of this paragraph, "emergency", including an unanticipated staffing emergency, is defined as an unforeseen event that could not be prudently planned for by an employer and does not regularly occur; or

d. ongoing medical treatment in which the EMS provider is actively engaged and whose continued presence through the completion of the call is needed to ensure the health and safety of the patient. 

4. The provisions of this section are intended as a remedial measure to protect the public health and the quality of patient care, and shall not be construed to diminish or waive any rights of any EMS provider pursuant to any other law, regulation, or collective bargaining agreement.  

This petition is a request for help from the New York State Senate, New York State Assembly, and Governor Cuomo.  Please help save the people who are called to save others.

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