We are organizing a union to have a collective voice so that we can advocate for patient and crew safety. I have never had any disciplinary action taken against me, but I have seen how unfair the systems is to others. We need to have a fair accountability process and fair treatment across the board.
In our line of work, there are rough nights and we may need to take a mental reset day. If you had a really rough night, you may not be able to tend to the patients as well as you should the next day. Last February, we took a call for an accidental self-inflicted wound of a 4-year-old child. I went home to my kids that night and I didn’t want to leave them and go to work the next day. I wanted to stay home with my kids to clear my head that day, but I didn’t want to get a call out and risk getting in trouble.
If you are in a darker place than you normally would be because of something you saw the night before, then you are not going to be able to provide the care that you would want to provide.
We need a workplace that recognizes that kind of challenge and provides resources, including paid time off to deal with such issues, to help us be the best we can be in all situations dealing with our patients. Having a union will provide us a process to advocate for workplace issues and resources like this.
Why should Burlington and Camden counties care about you organizing?
We are organizing to serve the community better. We had an issue when a stretcher stopped working while a patient was having bad respiratory issues. We had to have the patient climb out of the stretcher into the ambulance in cold weather. It is bad for patient care and staff morale when equipment like stretchers stop working. We need properly maintained equipment and vehicles to prevent incidents like this, which are all too common. We want our patients to know that we are unionizing to ensure that the equipment and services that we provide to keep them are as safe and healthy as possible with the best possible outcomes.
What would being respected on the job look like?
Being respected would mean getting the recognition for the work we do. It would boost morale if management would recognize us when we have difficult calls and do great jobs. It is especially important for our newer EMTs who are just entering the field. I want them to have positive experiences and a great work environment.