Louisville Metro EMS Paramedic Ordered to Work Overtime Falls Asleep in Patients Home and is Suspended

Paramedic Patty Greer was placed on indefinite suspension without pay after she fell asleep last Saturday night at a patient’s home while entering the patient’s information into her laptop. Greer says that she bent down to enter the patient’s details and fell asleep.

Greer blames the department’s excessive mandatory overtime for causing fatigue at work.  She also told reporters “I want people in our service not to be tired. I don’t want everybody to be mean and nasty and horrible anymore.”

In the past, the department has told the media that members who are too exhausted to work are allowed to go home, but that claim is disputed by employees. Paramedic Teresa Johnson showed reporters a copy of a written reprimand she received in June for not accepting mandatory overtime.  “We’re being forced to work overtime when we’re vastly too tired to do that”.

Louisville Metro EMS was in the news recently related to a number of disciplinary issues, many of which involved drug related offenses.

When asked about the overtime problem, and some possible solutions, Metro Councilman Kelly Downard stated “New Management”.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • When asked about the overtime problem, and some possible solutions, Metro Councilman Kelly Downard stated “New Management”.

    Well, that’s helpful.

  • Flash Larry

    Absolutely amazing. But in this job climate, the quasi-slavery that has been forced on many workers, especially public safety people, is pervasive. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

    Something will be done when an ambulance driver (yes I used that term but you’ll see why) falls asleep while driving and kills someone. At that point, it would be nice to see criminal charges of levied against the management that has forced this situation.

  • Russell

    At least she fell asleep at her laptop and not behind the wheel……

  • Darrin

    Right….”New Management”….not any new people to actually do the work.

  • Carol

    I have been a medic in a service that overworked it’s medics. We were running 24-26 calls in a 24 hour shift and pressured to work overtime. It is not safe and causes low morale and high burnout. I would say new management is necessary.

  • mike

    This is a problem all over the nation. In atlanta ga one of the largest private ems provider uses the 24 hrs on and 48hrs off schedule even though they are aware of the problems that come with it because its cheeper. It will take laws to be put in place because profit will always come before patient care.

  • Davey B

    New management is right. City council, and the main offices.

  • Steve-o

    Patty is an EMT, not paramedic…

  • City Medic

    just out of curiousity. What kind of shifts do they work? 24-48’s? 12 hour? City or rural? I would also be curious to know how many hours she was at work when this happened. Crappy situation. If you are tired and sleep deprived you are no longer an effective EMS provider and this can lead to mistakes!! Mistakes lead to patient harm and lawsuits. Both are BAD.

  • teresa johnson

    they fired patty today…. in part, because she spoke to the media.

  • Vanessa

    EMS work is no place to be working sleep deprived. The management obviously needs to take a serious look at staffing issues. Sleep deprivation in this line of work has very serious consequences including med errors and falling asleep driving just to name a few. Mangement should be thankfull this employee fell asleep at a patient’s home entering data into her laptop than giving a lethal dose of a medication and killing someone. Time to wake up management!!!

  • Thanks everyone for your comments on this important topic. As someone who has spent much of his career sleep deprived – I know it’s no joking matter. Sleep deprivation impacts us all in different ways… and perhaps differently at different times. For some it may be impaired motor skills/driving, for others it is impaired judgment, and still others it is mood disturbances resulting in anger and hostility toward patients and coworkers.

    If the only problem in Louisville Metro EMS was sleep deprivation – then perhaps it would be easily solved. But from the headlines over the past few years – sleep deprivation is just another in a long line of problems. It is hard to tell what are the symptoms and what is the problem: An obviously drug impaired medic driving an ambulance (resulting in a fatal accident), drug theft by a ranking member of the organization, numerous members disciplined for drug related offenses. Are drugs the way members of the organization “self-medicate” to deal with the stress of the job? Or is there a problem with who is being hired?

    Fixing the real problem may go well beyond hiring more medics to solve the mandatory overtime problem. It certainly won’t be solved by firing the folks who are trying to bring the problems to light. You can make the complaints stop – but that doesn’t fix the underlying problem.

  • metro fd

    She was (6)six hours into her shif not being held. This occurs after coming to work after many weeks of being on 8 our shifts. This is simply a case of trying to deflect attention away from a poor employee that bshould have been fired well before this incident. As for her counterpart in the story, she has a grand total of 18 hold credits while the remainder of the service has 50 or more yet she is the only one complaining of exhaustion, two bad employees causing problems for those tat show up everyday.

    • metro fd

      I’ll take you at your word about how long she was into her normal shift, but that alone does not answer the question. If she worked 16 or 20 hours the day before and came in to work exhausted from that, the fact she was only 6 hours into her shift is irrelevant. If she had been working 16 hour shifts several days in a row – how could she not be sleep deprived?

      But you do raise an important point – poor performing employees often try to take advantage of any excuse they can find to explain away their behavior. That may or may not be an issue here. But one poor performing employee does not explain the organizational problems that are matters of public record.

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  • ukfbbuff

    In defense of Paramedic Patty Greer, I would hope that either her union Rep. or her Attorney has downloaded the following:

    International Association of Fire Chief’s:

    “Effecs of Sleep Deprivation on Firefighters
    and EMS Responders” Final Report 2007″

    available at:


    And the, City of Indianapolis, Ind., FD conducted its own similiar study about a year ago.

  • DaveEMT

    I currently work a crazy schedule an 8 hour shift 2 days off then I work 4-16hr shifts back to back then 2 days off then another 8hr shift then 4 days off and repeat. Let me tell you by day 3 I am sometimes a walking zombie and I start to feel like I am losing my mind from exhaustion and my motor skills are slower and I feel dangerous driving forget stuff cant remember things etc. So I suggested to change it to the following so people can get more sleep…16 hr shift 2 days off 16hrs 8hrs 8hrs 16hrs 2 days off then a final 16hrs. Gives the person time to get more sleep and be rested and ready for the shift. Starting in April this will come in to effect as a change due to a suggestion over safety and all it took was alittle work and research and explaining it to the higher ups.

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  • Lola Mckennet

    New Management? That’s not gonna solve ANYTHING if the whole management DEPT believe you can do overtime when you can’t. At my own company if you dispute overtime or don’t take extra work days they discriminate you until you start picking up shifts. The hatred is felt very thickly when you say no, and the happiness last about 30 seconds when you do pick up a day. It’s never worth it.


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