Skip to main content

Paramedic Activist Seeks to Lift Up EMS Profession

Committed to helping EMTs and paramedics build a better future for themselves, a member of AFSCME Local 4911 in Sonoma County, Calif., traveled to Ohio to support the efforts of EMS professionals at LifeStar to organize with AFSCME.
Previous High Poverty Rate a Distress Call for More Worker Rights
By Justin Lee ·
Paramedic Activist Seeks to Lift Up EMS Profession
Photo: Left to right –Ohio paramedics James Forsythe and Jeff Bickford, and California paramedic Jared Kirby. Credit Justin Lee.

TOLEDO, Ohio — When California paramedic Jared Kirby heard about EMS professionals in Ohio organizing for better patient care and safety at LifeStar Ambulance, he was the first to volunteer his help. Kirby, an AFSCME Local 4911 member from Sonoma County, traveled all the way to Toledo to share his union experience with EMTs and paramedics uniting for a better future.

“I’m out here this week because they need a better work environment for themselves and their patients,” said Kirby. “Building our union is how we stop companies from taking advantage of our profession.”

Kirby began his EMS career eight years ago at a nonunion company and understands the importance of having a strong collective voice. Meeting with local paramedics and EMTs at informational meetings, in their homes, and over the phone, he spoke about the difference the union makes for their profession.

“At my first EMS job, we had no support system and little training,” he said. “Just by looking at our equipment, you could tell the company cared more about profit than patients.”

Kirby went on to work for American Medical Response and joined AFSCME in 2012. Earlier this year, he and his coworkers secured a union contract improving worker and patient safety by ensuring rest periods between work shifts.

“Our union is our voice,” said Kirby. “And that’s how we fight for the betterment of EMS as a whole and make it a respected public safety profession. We’re going to keep pushing until every EMS worker is well-rested, well-equipped and well-trained to provide the best patient care possible.”

A union election is underway for EMS professionals at LifeStar, and ballots will be counted on Sept. 30. If victorious, they’ll be joining more than 24,000 EMS professional across the country who have united with AFSCME.

Related Posts