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Blount Co. AMR first responders start shorter workweeks due to increased stress from pandemic

Mental health experts said that having an extra day off can increase productivity and motivation, while also helping ensure workers stay healthy.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Emergency response workers are burnt out after working through rising overdose cases and the COVID-19 pandemic. One organization is giving them an extra day off during the week, ensuring they have more time to relax and destress.

Usually, first responders with American Medical Response work 24-hour shifts. 

“That is very taxing on an individual’s body and spirit,” said Johnathon Rodgers, an operations manager for AMR in Blount County.

First responders already work stressful jobs. During the pandemic, they faced a whole new kind of challenge which made an already stressful job even more hectic.

He came up with a way to lessen the load — giving workers an extra day off while ensuring they keep the same take-home pay. He said the decision gives workers an extra 1,000 extra hours to be with their families.

After finishing their 24-hour shifts, first responders will have three days off instead of only two, effectively giving them four-day workweeks. Studies show that having an extra day off can bring significant health benefits. 

Mental health experts also said that a four-day workweek can boost productivity and motivation resulting in companies that perform better.

AMR Regional Manager Josh Mitchell said their new schedule will help first responders be able to better care for patients, including those with COVID-19. 

“The traditional shift deployment of one day on and two days off just didn’t work anymore," said Mitchell. 

The organization started the new schedule around 2 weeks ago. Mitchell said that has already noticed a change in employees. 

“I think knowing they have an extra day off helps them absorb the increased call volume," he said.

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