In just eight days in January, an EMT and a paramedic with Beaufort County EMS each racked up more than 140 hours doing a job that required quick thinking and reactions at any time of day or night, from rushing to transport trauma patients to the hospital to responding to life-threatening medical emergencies.
Three times, their initial, 24-hour shifts ended. And three times, rather than clock out, they started another.
These extended 48-hour shifts are the norm rather than the exception in Beaufort County, budget documents and schedules reviewed by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette show. The newspapers’ analysis reveals the county’s EMS department has blown through its overtime budget repeatedly in recent years, overspending by millions of dollars while potentially compromising worker and patient safety, employees and experts warn.