Southwest Ambulance

  www.swambulance.com
  www.swambulance.com

Southwest Ambulance Reviews

Updated October 10, 2014
Updated October 10, 2014
16 Reviews
1.3
16 Reviews
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Southwest Ambulance President & CEO Michael DiMino
Michael DiMino
9 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    I Love My Job, But...

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

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Disappointment and Disarray in the Desert Southwest

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Paramedic in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - Paramedic in Mesa, AZ

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    EMT-B

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Former Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ

    I worked at Southwest Ambulance full-time (more than an 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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    Disappointing at best.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Worst possible employer ever.

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

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    EMT Wife

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The only pro is you gain in the field experience. Other than that there are no pros.

    Cons

    Terrible pay, long hours, held over for several hours most days, unable to take any sick leave or vacation time, dispatchers are untrained and send crews all over the valley when a closer crew could take the call, they are also inaccurate in most of their descriptions of calls, complaints go unnoticed. This company is poorly managed and take advantage of their employees by finding loop holes so they don't have to pay you all your over time. Their employees have to work 2 or 3 other jobs just to make ends meet which leave little to no time for their families.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    When a company doesn't care about it's employees why should the employees care about the company? Raise your pay rates, retrain or bring in new supervisors and dispatchers. Get organized and take care of your people.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Terrible company to work for

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Southwest Ambulance

    Pros

    Free re certification classes and free uniform.

    Cons

    Make you travel throughout the state.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Tell your candidates up front that they will be traveling to places way past anything near them. Maybe , actually looking at people's locations would help during the interview process. instead of just saying you do to bring in more staff. Also try giving your employees a chance to rest. Maybe you won't have any ambulance accidents then.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    Southwest Ambulance

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ
    Current Employee - EMT-B in Mesa, AZ

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

    Pros

    As an emergency service provider we get to work with amazing people who all share the same types of goals. Police, Fire, and Hospital Staff all work together to serve, protect and provide care above and beyond what the job description may be. There is a sense of responsibility, community, and respect when wearing the uniform. There is a sense of family, brotherhood when you are with others that do the same.

    Cons

    I would say that one of the major issues is that it is difficult to work for a company that does not put back into its employee base. As an employee you are treated like a number from day one. Policy, procedures and the like are all just words when it comes to what the employee needs. When the company wants to supersede its own policies it can, when the company wants to make a change it does - regardless of the impact on its employees and their families (the feeling is that they truly do not care).

    If you are looking for a career with work life balance this isn't the place. They offer a barely livable wage, with costly benefits and lots of the same issues that continue to carry one year to the next without change.

    The union is weak and the feeling is that we are on our own. The union leadership doesn't seem to feel the same pinch as the employee base. Dues are raised, services are not. It is not a win win relationship.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Its cliche but leadership begins at the top. Pointing fingers at the union and the union doing the same is ridiculous (The union is just as responsible to its members).Inflation has gone up as high as 4% in the last 5 years, and we haven't had a raise or contract in almost two and a half years. So the question would be could you live off of what you pay your people? Could you work the same hours, with the same working conditions day in and day out?

    So my advice would be - take an inventory of what is happening in the company and ask yourself - as a manager/ employer - what are my responsibilities to my people? If you do feel like you are being responsible then - I am sorry for my words and obviously I am in the wrong business. If you realize that something needs to be done - then you are the right person for the job and we would wish you the best in your efforts.

    I understand that we are in the business of taking care of people - at what cost? As we care for others, who is caring for our own?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Good company back in the day. BUT NOW? not so much

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

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

    Pros

    Good experience to work as an EMT. When I started with the company back in the day it was a fun place to work. Management seemed to care about the field personal. But that all soon changed when the company started shutting down I.F. stations and changing all the I.F. schedules every year sometimes twice a year.

    Cons

    Company has very poor communication, managers and dispatchers like to micromanage people in the field. Company wants to remove the 20 year pension, pay you less, and cries that they have no money. BUT purchases all new staff vehicles for all managers and waist tons money buy purchasing oversized ambulance's for the nurses that have no more room than a reg. ambulance. There are NO yearly reviews on your performance. Managers like to discipline first and ask questions later. The annual and new employee training is a joke.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take care of your employees and they will take care of you. Pay your people better, there is a lot of responsibility working on an ambulance, responding to calls, pushing drugs, working with the public and other public service agencies. Alot of EMTs, Medics, and Nurses work second jobs on their off time to help pay the bills. Remember some day they may be responding to your family emergency.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Most Worst Management Ever

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Customer Service Representative in Scottsdale, AZ
    Former Employee - Customer Service Representative in Scottsdale, AZ

    I worked at Southwest Ambulance full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Nothing. There Really is Nothing good about this Place.

    Cons

    Childish and Lazy supervisors along with Childish Management which allow laziness from whichever supervisor or lead has more seniority.

    I've seen whole days wasted, by just Leads and supervisors just trying to finds ways to get specific employees fired, just because there not apart of their Little "high school Clicks"

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Weak Management. Work isnt a Party, and its not your Family replacement. It should be a Professional environment. Grow up

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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