Southwest Ambulance Reviews

Updated August 4, 2015
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Southwest Ambulance President & CEO Michael DiMino
Michael DiMino
11 Ratings

21 Employee Reviews

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  1. Ok for the new EMT fresh out of school

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    interfacility and EMS shifts are available. Most of the field employees are good people. An ok place to get some experience while looking to peruse better options.

    Cons

    Ambulances are always breaking. Don't think about getting off on time. Some dispatchers will hold you over just because they can.

    Advice to Management

    Employee has been at a low for years, there is a lot of experience in the field. If you treated your employees better, you wouldn't have seasoned employees leaving.


  2. emt

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    good overtime and good exposure to ems

    Cons

    bad management and long hours, bad station housing


  3. Southwest Ambulance cares about you, if you are an almighty dollar.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Paramedic in Mesa, AZ
    Former Employee - Paramedic in Mesa, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Good field level employees, Madatory certifications paid for, Offers chance to attain higher certification, Union membership optional,

    Cons

    Extremely poor management, lack of communication with field level employees, failure to bargain effectively with union regarding pay and pension, multiple NLRB complaints, favoritism shown to certain employees while others are disciplined harshly for relatively minor infractions, mandatory 2 hour hold for all trucks which can be extended to 5+ hours depending on dispatchers and management, low pay, poor benfits, management focused on compensation and financial gain rather than delivering exceptional service.

    Advice to Management

    Be honest with employees. Establish effective dialogue. Stop promising things and not delivering. Stop trying to cut pay and hours, which are already low as is. Those of us in the field have to be able to live and thrive as well. Cutting pay, benefits and hours not only takes this away from employees, but also causes a decrease in morale, a decline in customer satisfaction, and leads to an ineffective workforce and business model. With a competitor coming into the market, rather than giving employees a reason to leave, you should be focused on retaining employees, especially those with experience. Instead, morale is at an all time low, and many people are looking for almost any way out. Stop the favoritism shown to select employees and have a set standard that ALL employees, including management are held to. The EMS field is about caring for people. Yes, it focuses on delivering exceptional patient care, but until you start caring for your employees instead of giving all your focus to the almighty dollar, you haven't even begun to be able to provide what the customer/pt truly needs.


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  5. Don't Work Here.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Employees on the ambulances are the best. The only thing keeping the few dedicated employees around is a sense of camaraderie and dedication to each other and the people we serve.

    Cons

    Mandatory 2 hour holds at the end of 12 hour shifts. Less than average pay for EMT's and Paramedics, high turnover rate, not flexible with regards to school. No advancement opportunities.

    Advice to Management

    Pay your field employees a fair wage, control outrageous dispatchers and get rid of the two hour hold and you will see an increase in productivity and employee satisfaction.


  6. Terrible company to work for

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - EMT-B in Phoenix, AZ
    Former Employee - EMT-B in Phoenix, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Ambulance full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    None, there is no upside to working for this company

    Cons

    Terrible pay, management, benefits, and equipment. Dispatchers are vindictive with no disciplinary action. The whole company is inefficient in everything that it does.

    Advice to Management

    I don't even know where to start, this company is in such bad shape you might as well just start over from the beginning


  7. I Love My Job, But...

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - EMT in Phoenix, AZ
    Current Employee - EMT in Phoenix, AZ
    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Plenty of hours, lots of OT, union available but not required, training available, great experience, awesome job to have when you want to get into flight medicine or nursing.

    Cons

    Low pay, mandatory two-hour holdovers (that can rapidly turn into five-hour holdovers at the whim of dispatch), OT taken away without warning, ambulances that are old and frequently break down, equipment that may or may not work, little to no response if a coworker harasses or even threatens you.

    Advice to Management

    Start caring about your employees. Better pay, benefits, and a little more respect will attract and retain better talent. The revolving door creates problems and you're losing a lot of money continually training new employees just so you can abuse them until they quit. Invest in better equipment; when your newest rides are nearly 20 years old and there's not enough of them to go around, crews feel like you don't care about the equipment, so the crews will in turn not care about the equipment. Stop the trend of every single decision about field personnel being punitive in nature. Rather than reducing the number of points an employee can lose before disciplinary action or termination, try to find out what's making them call out because they're drinking heavily. A peer debriefing program could work wonders, too.


  8. Helpful (2)

    Disappointment and Disarray in the Desert Southwest

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Paramedic in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - Paramedic in Mesa, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Southwest offers entry level jobs to new paramedics and EMTs who need field experience. Other than that, there really is no benefit to working for Southwest.

    Cons

    Hostile Management Team: Attitudes and practices flow from the top down in ever industry. At Southwest the major deficit is a management team that sees field employees as the enemy. It's hard to imagine working for an employer where there is more disrespect and dishonor toward field crews from a management team. From the first day they arrive on the job most new employees get a feeling like management is out to get them. The hostility between management and the field crews is the worst I've seen anywhere I've worked. Largely because of this hostility, the firm has a revolving door that never stops. We're always hiring new employees because we can't retain the average EMT or paramedic for more than a few months. Here's a typical example of what happens to a new employee: I was supposed to work with a new EMT last week who had just finished his new employee orientation. He never showed up for either of his first two scheduled shifts. Many people quit before they work their first shift because during new employee orientation, they realize just how bad things are at Southwest. They quit and are never heard from again. The attitude that management has toward its employees makes working at Southwest a grind. Weak Union: The other part of the problem with Southwest is that its labor union has weak leadership. The union’s executive staff lacks the training and education needed to be able to approach management with creative, constructive and realistic solutions to the company’s problems. Rather than taking a proactive role and helping steer the direction of the company, the union takes a reactionary role where it opposes every change proposed by management. Another problem is that Arizona doesn’t require all employees to join the union. Membership is optional and many people opt not to join. The union is poorly funded due to low participation and doesn’t have the full support of the field crews. This robs the union of its ability to effectively represent field employees. Wages: Southwest is owned by Rural Metro, which just came out of bankruptcy. Every policy the company has is motivated by the directive to cut costs. I worked for another Rural Metro operation and transferred to Southwest a few years ago. I was making over $30 an hour before I transferred here and $14.50 an hour after the transfer. The HR manager promised me a higher wage when I transferred, but failed to follow through on her promise. I know of several other employees who were also promised a higher wage upon being hired, but they were all started out at the bottom of the pay scale. The more than 50% cut in pay that Southwest gave me is due to its policy that refuses to compensate employees for field experience, even if they transfer within the company. The firm has not signed a labor contract with the union in 4 years which means no one has received a raise since then, because there's no pay scale upon which to base raises. Southwest is currently trying to do away with its pension system, leaving little reason for new hires to stay for the long haul. (As bad as wages and benefits are at Southwest, things are much worse and our sister company PMT, which is also owned by Rural Metro.) Interfacility First Year Southwest has 2 different operations; EMS and Interfacility. The operations have a small amount of overlap but function as different entities, having different managers. The EMS operation assists local fire departments with the transport of patients who call 911. The interfacility operation handles non-emergency transports between hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and patient who request non-emergency transport from home. For the first year that you work at Southwest you're not allowed to bid on a spot in the EMS operation, but are restricted to interfacility only. That is unless; staffing needs require people to be added to EMS who have not worked a full year in interfacility. While the interfacility and EMS operations are functionally separate, there are days when EMS units will be pulled from their regular duties and assigned interfacility calls. There are also days when interfacility units will be asked to take EMS calls. The enforcement of all policies is subject to the discretion of management and their needs from day to day. Mandatory Hold-Overs Every EMS service has a 2-hour mandatory holdover policy for critical crew levels and exceptional situations, but few companies use their hold-over policy on a regular basis. Southwest enforces mandatory hold-overs of not just 2 hours, but up to 5 hours in some cases. The hold-overs are an almost daily occurrence. During the busy season, you can expect to be held past the end of your shift between 1 to 3 hours every day. Do not make any plans during this time, because you will inevitably be held over. This is one of the biggest complaints that crews have, but management has refused to change its enforcement of the hold-over policy. Junk Ambulances Although the EMS side of Southwest's operation has nice new ambulances, the interfacility operation has a fleet of trucks that should have been shipped to Central America a decade ago Many of Southwest's ambulances have over 1 million miles on them and they were made in the 1990s. Broken ambulances that must be towed are a routine occurrence. As of this writing, two thirds of our fleet is in a lot designated for repair, but the rigs are not being fixed, because the company doesn't have the money to pay for the repairs. Medics Don't Drive You read that right. Due to a few medical misadventures, Southwest instituted a policy which states that when an EMT and a paramedic are partnered together, (which is the case 99% of the time) and there is a patient on board, the paramedic must be in the back doing patient care - regardless of how minor the patient's condition is. That means that if you're on a 24 hour shift and you get hammered with an 18 transport day, as a medic you're going to be doing a lot of charting and as an EMT, you're going to be driving until you puke. Paramedics aren't even allowed to obtain driving status until they've been with the company for a while. (I can't tell you how long that is, because I've been here for several years and I still don't have driving status.) Broken Radios One of the biggest surprises for me was how terrible the firm's radio system is. Radio reception is generally crappy no matter where your vehicle is located. Since the operation is in a valley that has radio towers on the mountains, you'd think it would be easy to build a functional system, but that's not the case. The radio system has huge areas where there's no way to speak to dispatch. Again, it's likely due to money. If Southwest had the capital available to build a legit radio system, things might be better. Worthless Dispatch Dispatchers at Southwest are (with a few exceptions) generally incompetent. There are a few older dispatchers who have great radio etiquette and knowledge of how to dispatch calls, but these people are few and far between. Like every other part of the Southwest operation, the turnover rate in dispatch is high, so there are always new dispatchers-in-training on the air making a mess of things. While eight crews are waiting to tell dispatch they're on scene or transporting, the rookie dispatcher is telling a crew every possible irrelevant detail he can think of for their nursing home transfer including the color of socks the patient is wearing. Addresses and patient information are as likely to be wrong as they are to be right, which creates constant frustration for field crews. Add to this the fact that dispatchers are pressured to hold crews over on a daily basis and you can understand why there is almost universal hatred between the field crews and dispatch. Ethical Catch 22 Like most private ambulance services, Southwest's management team has an extremely low standard of ethics, despite the inspiring motivational posters hung on the walls of the buildings we rent. The firm has policies that prohibit certain activities, but if a manager feels it's in their best interest to have you violate company policy, they'll ask you to break the rules in a New York minute. A frequent example is when managers ask paramedics who don't have driving status to drive units from one station to another. If the medic refuses, they're insubordinate, but if they agree to drive the ambulance to another station, they're in violation of company policy, and if they wreck the truck on the way there, the firm will throw them under the bus. You may at times end up working with a supervisor as your partner. It's not uncommon for them to ask you to ignore company policies concerning backing of ambulances etc. In these cases you must decide if you'd rather disobey a supervisor or violate company policy. Where We Need You Today The actual location where you'll work on any given day is subject to management discretion. Although most employees are assigned to a unit with a fixed start and end time that comes on duty in a certain location, you may be re-assigned to any unit in the operation on any given day. If for example, your partner calls out sick, you can be re-assigned that day to work as far as 70 or 80 miles from your normal station. That means that crews do a lot of driving around the valley just to get to work. If your partner takes a couple of weeks off, you'll probably be re-assigned each day until they return to work. As of this writing, my partner is out on disability. It's been 2 months since I had a regular assignment. Every day it's up to the shift supervisor and scheduling to determine where I will work. I'm fortunate in that I don't have a car at work. My wife drops me off. So if scheduling tries to assign me to a unit on the other side of the county, they have to get me there. It happened one day that they assigned me to a unit that was 50 miles from the main station in Mesa. They had the EMT drive to the station to pick me up and drop me off at the end of shift. For this reason, some people will not bring a car to work, because it reduces the likelihood that they'll be driving all over the county to get to their assigned unit. This is another major factor that contributes to the low morale a Southwest.

    Advice to Management

    There is a simple solution to the morale and staffing problems Southwest has.The firm has an incentive for interfacility transports of $5 per call. This amount doesn't really do anything to motivate crews to run more calls. Most crews still take too long at facilities, trying to run as few calls as possible. The situation is so bad that crews deliberately sabotage their ambulances to avoid running more calls. This creates waste and decreases unit-hour utilization, which requires more crews to be added to handle the calls and more crews must be held-over. The solution is to find a way to motivate field crews to run more calls. This problem can be eliminated by increasing the per-call bonus. If for example the average crew runs 4 calls per day, the company should set 4 calls as the minimum that a crew must run before they receive a bonus. If the per-call incentive were increased to say $25 per call after the 4th call, it would serve to entice crews to run their calls faster. If a crew were to average seven transports a day instead of four, they would receive an extra $300 per week in their paycheck, assuming a 4 day workweek. This type of bonus creates a significant benefit to the employee. It would make crews want to run more calls. Rather than coming up with ways to avoid running calls, and costing the company more money in repairs for sabotaged ambulances, crews would be hustling as fast as they could to run another call to get another $25. This change would increase operational efficiency, reducing the need to hire more crews or hold crews over. The company lowers its cost per call, and the crews get a bigger paycheck. Everyone wins. It's simple solution that would complete change the way things are done in the field.


  9. Disappointing at best.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    24 hour shifts if you get to work EMS/911 after a year or two of working interfacility. Work about 10 days a month

    Cons

    No raises or cost of living increase. Company keeps getting bought out or filling for bankruptcy. Company moral is at a all time low (even manager agree with this statement Ina diary basis). It has turned people who loved helping and caring for people, into angry people hating employees. Constantly down rides to save money, at the expense of employees health and sanity.

    Advice to Management

    Go back to the way southwest used to be, before it was bought out by rural metro. And treat your employees with a little respect and have some empathy for employees who work for 24 hrs and understand it's extremely exhausting and adding more move ups on top of the never ending calls just makes it worse


  10. EMT-B

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Former Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Experience in the field as an EMT

    Cons

    Management constantly used threats to try to motivate employees. They tried to follow the military but feel way short in the implementation. Not a pleasant place to work.

    Advice to Management

    Treat employees with respect and as professionals and they will act as such.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Worst possible employer ever.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - EMT in Mesa, AZ
    Former Employee - EMT in Mesa, AZ
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Ambulance full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    This uniform has lost its honor, the only pro is getting field experience.

    Cons

    Management is the worst around. Unless you kiss their butt and bribe them you will get nothing. Never expect to be off in time. Dispatch is vindictive and rude to crews. Equipment 8s bad and your lucky if you have all supplies. You must find a rock and hide under it to survive, if not you will not last long. No body takes responsibility for ANYTHING. Compnay will not stand behind you what so ever. At some point in your career here you will be told you are a dime a dozen, and they will make sure you know that.

    Advice to Management

    Do not tell your ambulance crews they are far less superior than your fire crews. Its time people take responsibilty for their actions.



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