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Night Shift

Posted May 20 2011 9:45am

Working night shift wears me out. We do a lot of “swing shifts” from days (7a-7p) to mids (10a-10p) to nights (7p-7a). Fortunately, in-house rules exist as to how we structure our schedule but I still struggle with those damn nights.

Anyone else out there have issues with swinging from days to nights and back in a few short days? More importantly, do you have tricks that work?

As all in the HEMS industry know, we have fought safety issues and criticism related to our horrible accident record in 2009. In one online article related to the NTSB hearing quoted Eileen Frazer, RN, executive director of CAMTS who stated :

“The No. 1 issue we have concerns about is fatigue and sleep deprivation,” Frazer testified. She said 49% of helicopter EMS accidents happen at night, while only 34% of flights take place at night. “One of our biggest concerns is sleep inertia — that period after you wake up. What is your cognitive function? What are your psychomotor skills and what activities must you do immediately after being awakened?”

[emphasis mine]

I recently completed online and in house sleep safety training. I KNOW what happens when I am too tired. I know that proper diet, exercise, sleep, etc will help prevent fatigue.

But the question still hangs out there—–how the hell do I flip back and forth between these varied shifts?

*head desk*

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