Escambia County EMS and Fire Rely on TeleStaff as Thousands Converge on Pensacola Bay to Clean Up After Oil Spill

IRVINE, Calif. – Principal Decision Systems International (PDSI), the leader in public safety employee scheduling and communication solutions, wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Escambia County Emergency Medical Services and Escambia Fire-Rescue for their integral role in the ongoing clean up efforts of the Gulf of Mexico.

“It is with great pride that we recognize the work of these Florida departments and are gratified that we can in some way be a part of the myriad support system cleaning up the Gulf. This is why we created TeleStaff; to advance the critical mission of public safety,” said Greg Ekstrom, PDSI president. “A lot of us feel helpless as we watch the oil spill on the news. We are heartened that we are able to assist first responders with this tremendous undertaking on the ground.”

On April 20, an explosion 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana aboard British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11, injured 17 and began what has become the worst oil spill in American history. Nearly three months later, stakeholders are battling to contain the now estimated 2 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico daily.

Earlier this month, Escambia County EMS was called upon to safeguard the 1,500 workers each day cleaning up Pensacola’s shoreline and waterways from the Alabama state line to Santa Rosa County, in 100 degree heat and humidity. The 24-hour a day work detail, which required 22 paramedics and EMTs per 12-hour shift, included setting up sites in locales that were not part of their normal duty area along a 100-mile plus stretch of beach and in the water.

For weeks, workers have been trying to free the beaches of tar balls, some the size of basketballs, and tar lines, which are longer and larger, along Pensacola Beach. In addition, multiple boats are working to remove oil from the water.

“Our role is to provide aid stations for the workers and medical personnel on the boats that are skimming and putting up booms,” said Escambia EMS Chief Mike Weaver.

Before embarking on his expanded responsibilities, Weaver first had to tackle the task of scheduling and notifying qualified and available personnel. It quickly became overwhelming using their current method of manual scheduling with paper.

“This was way beyond our scope,” said Weaver. “All the road supervisors and managers were on the telephone trying to staff 12 hours out. That’s a total of four going round the clock just to staff 12 hours out. We did it like that for a week.”

Thanks to interdepartmental cooperation with Escambia County Fire-Rescue, Escambia EMS streamlined operations in a couple of hours using TeleStaff. PDSI’s Technical Services associates created a special unit dedicated to the new detail; imported the fire department’s database to increase the pool of personnel to 221, including their availability and qualifications; created a new position within the unit; tied the new unit to existing rules; and set up shift times and multiple offers. Other functions utilized included setting up auto hire with multiple call times and creating backup positions. Initial notifications also included information alerting staff of the new unit within the job offer so the transition was seamless.

“We were just trying to get a fire roster so we could call them ourselves and a print out of their schedule, because we needed more personnel to cover the shifts,” said Weaver. “But we were told there was a much easier and more equitable way. Now, with TeleStaff, we are staffing two weeks out, which means a great deal in terms of planning and notifying staff so they can coordinate with their regular shifts or secure childcare. These are critically important shifts. Without us, there is no work that can be done.”

Now, Escambia County can focus on the job at hand – treating clean up crews for any medical issues, including heat stroke, exhaustion, dehydration, emergencies or other injuries.

“TeleStaff has been able to relieve the stress and workload that four people were trying to manage at the same time as their normal work day duties,” said Lt. Stephen Boothe, of Escambia Fire-Rescue. “It is definitely working.”

Since 1997, PDSI has been delivering TeleStaff, an automated employee scheduling and communication solution as a 100% commercial-off-the-shelf product to public safety organizations such as fire, EMS, law enforcement and corrections. Currently, TeleStaff supports nearly 600 public safety customers in North America. Through patented scheduling technology capable of incorporating rules, policies and procedures, built-in communication features and self-service employee access, TeleStaff streamlines scheduling organization-wide, while controlling costs and ensuring compliance with collective bargaining agreements, labor laws and other agency policies. For more information, call TeleStaff’s Sales Department at (800) 850-7374 or visit

About PDSI
Principal Decision Systems International (PDSI) is a recognized leader in workforce management solutions. The company's products merge advanced employee scheduling and time management automation with communication capabilities enabling organizations to optimize staffing, manage outbound and inbound communications, streamline routine workflow, control labor costs, and comply with regulatory policies. Hundreds of organizations in the United States and Canada rely on PDSI solutions to help drive increased operational efficiency and workforce productivity. The company's headquarters are located in Irvine, California. For more information, visit or

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