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Agreement reached on 12-hour shifts for paramedics, EMTs

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Officials with the city and United Public Workers union announced an agreement Tuesday that allows paramedics and emergency medical technicians to work longer shifts but shorter weeks. 

Most shifts would go to three- and four-day 12-hour work weeks from the current five-day, eight-hour weeks, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua said.

The plan is designed to help with staff shortage issues the Department of Emergency Services in recent months. Some Emergency Medical Services Division stations have been forced to shut down for certain weekend shifts due to shortages.

While there seems to be full agreement on going to 12-hour shifts, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned that a petition opposing the 12-to-12 shift times was signed by about 75 paramedics and EMTs.

Caldwell and Nakanelua acknowledged the concerns, and said city and union officials will meet every three months during the year-long pilot program to make adjustments to address employee concerns.

EMS employs about 200 emergency service workers on Oahu.

The change is expected to reduce the amount of overtime EMS workers need to work, saving the city about $1.5 million annually in overtime, and keep them more alert and happier, city officials said.

The agreement allows paramedics and EMTs to receive night differential and meal allowances instead.

The city has been paying about $5 million annually in overtime to EMS workers.

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