Riverside County, CA, Deal Would Improve Paramedic & EMT Pay, Patient Care

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — Paramedics and EMTs in Riverside County have reached an agreement with American Medical Response that would provide 18 percent pay increases over three and half years, protect health insurance, and perhaps most importantly, create a professional practice committee to give emergency care professionals a voice in patient care issues.

The agreement with the nation’s largest private emergency medical services (EMS) company could usher in a new approach to running EMS systems by requiring managers to regularly consult with their licensed personnel on issues impacting patient care. For residents who may find themselves in need of emergency assistance, this would lead to better outcomes.

“As the professionals delivering the care, we’re the best advocates for patients,” said Paramedic Ricky Rodriguez.  “With our professional practice committee, AMR has finally agreed to listen.”

Profit-driven EMS companies often implement what Rodriguez and his colleagues call a lean model of care. That often translates to outdated equipment, aging ambulances, an exhausted workforce and high turnover.  Securing a commitment from AMR to recognize and act on recommendations from front line professionals was a top priority during negotiations.

“I’m happy and excited that we’ve won a voice in shaping the way patient care is delivered,” said Paramedic Sam Maddaluna. “The county has said they want to have more input from actual field providers, and soon we’ll be able to speak with one unified voice to help shape policies and protocols.”

Members of AFSCME Local 4911 will vote on the tentative agreement in the coming weeks. In the meantime EMS professionals at AMR in Missouri and Arizona continue to bargain for a contract that would raise standards for their families and their patients.