Internal memo reveals staffing shortages, slower response times for Charleston Co. EMS

Internal memo reveals staffing shortages, slower response times for Charleston Co. EMS

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County EMS experienced a staffing shortage and slower average response times this past weekend, according to an internal memo obtained by Live 5 News.

The memo was sent out Monday from EMS Assistant Chief Jim Ciali to the EMS command staff and division chiefs.

“Rough weekend for unstaffed medic units which is reflected in average response times,” the memo read.

“It’s concerning to the fact that we care greatly about what we do, what our mission is and if so our average response times increase by one minute like this past weekend like they did, we call that a concern,” said David Abrams, director of Charleston County EMS.

Abrams called this past weekend’s sick call out not normal for the agency. He says as far as he knows no patients died from the staff shortage.

Charleston County spokesman Shawn Smetana provided the staffing numbers for the weekends of May 11 and May 18.

Smetana said 12 medics were out on May 18. Of those, eight were on sick leave and four were out under the Family Medical Leave Act. On May 19, 10 medics were out. Six were on sick leave and four were out on FMLA.

Date Sick Leave FMLA
May 19 6 4
May 18 8 4
May 12 1 3
May 11 4 3

On the previous weekend, seven were out on May 11, including four on sick leave and three on FMLA; and only four were out on May 12, including one on sick leave and three on FMLA.

Smetana said five ambulances were out of service on both May 18 and 19, compared with four on May 11 and only one on May 12.

Date Avg. AM Response Time Avg. PM Response Time
May 19 9:16 8:56
May 18 9:40 9:05
May 12 8:07 9:03
May 11 8:16 7:52

Smetana also provided the average response times, in minutes, for both weekends. According to those numbers, the average response time for the weekend of May 18 and 19 was between 8:56 and 9:40. That’s compared with an average response time of between 7:52 and 9:03 for the previous weekend.

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