Sleeping on the job:how do you do it?

Tigger

Dodges Pucks
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It is our responsibility to be well rested, before we even start a shift? That's not always an option. In fact, for most people I know, it's damn near impossible. I guess you don't, but some people have other things to do when they aren't at work. It can't always be: Sleep all day, then stay awake for a 12 hour shift, rinse, repeat. Something I hear an awful lot from my coworkers after a 12 hour shift goes something like: "After this I go home and sleep for an hour, and then back to work another 12 at another EMS job"

We humans NEED sleep. We can't just opt out.

Instead of talking down to others who are just trying to find ways to get a bit of sleep on the job, you should thank your respective god that you actually have the blessing of being able to be well rested before a shift.

This kind of attitude is one of the many that continues to hold EMS back from advancing as a profession. It is not an option to show up to work not fit to work the entire shift, no matter what the reason. People working back to back 12s on 2 hours of sleep continuously are going to be substandard providers, because as you note, humans need sleep. I hate working with someone that just came off a 13 and are coming straight on since I have to pick up their slack.

I sleep when we have nothing to do and are posted, but everyday I come to work expecting that I will not sleep for the next 13 hours and I plan what I do prior to coming on accordingly. Otherwise I am doing a serious disservice to my partner and patients.
 

Tigger

Dodges Pucks
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Police officer...and they get fired for sleeping on duty

Every cop I've ever met works 8s, and it's certainly not unheard of to post up in an out of the way place and take a quick nap.
 

Ewok Jerky

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to the OP

-who never said anything about DEMANDING a RIGHT to sleep:

when I work nights its not really an issue, I have a pillow to prop against the door panel and lean my head in that little spot between the head-rest and door jam, you know like where the seatbelt is.

days is a little tougher, if Im in a lot somewhere I throw on my shades and try to stay straight so it looks like Im just staring, or I will hold a book/magazine in my hands.

to everyone else: what if OP had asked about a good book to read during downtime, or a good portable DVD player...anyone have a problem with that? "you should not be watching movies on duty!" yeah right.

(disclaimer: we all know the A-holes who gripe and moan when a call comes in whether they are sleeping, or reading, or finishing a tag or whatever...but I dont think we are talking about those people now)
 

46Young

Level 25 EMS Wizard
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I think everybody is arguing for no reason. We all seem to be in agreement on the fact that you should go to work expecting to work the entire time and not sleep. However, if all of your station/rig duties are done AND you're not breaking a company policy AND you can wake up and be ready to go when the radio calls you, who cares if you sleep? If the company doesn't dictate what I do on my downtime then I'll do what I feel is best for me at that time. I'm sure my patients would like me a lot more at 34 of my 36 hours if I've had the opportunity to nap than they would if I hadn't whether I am capable of working the whole 36 with no rest period or not.

Bingo! If you have no pending tasks to complete, and sleeping doesn't inferers with anything operationally, then there's nothing wrong with it. Just don't do it in the public eye, and get all of your mandatory duties and training out of the way before you look to rack out. If anything, it renders the provider more alert and productive when they are running calls. They're called safety naps for a reason.

Now, for shifts of 16 hours or less, plan on getting no sleep. In NYC, the shifts cannot go over 16 hours for this reason. This is also why truckers can't drive past 16 hours either.The problem is, on the overnights, no matter how you sleep during the days, humans are not nocturnal creatures. You're body is going to look to sleep at some point; it's just natural. When I worked the 2000-0800, I would always hit a wall at around 0200 no matter how well rested I was.

For 24's and greater, sleep should be authorized. Multiple studies have shown that when you're awake past 16 straight hours, your reaction time when driving is blunted to the equivalent of having two alcoholic beverages (or somehting similar). I wonder how many medication errors or missed IV's are due to fatigue from being up too many hours or just from working the overnight? Realize that overnight personnel may have no plausible options other than working at their current job, and at night. It's not as simple as just changing jobs or shifts. They can have children to care for, a long commute, whatever. They may have already have been up for 4,8, 12 hours or more when they arrive at work, having no way to change that scenario.
 

46Young

Level 25 EMS Wizard
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This kind of attitude is one of the many that continues to hold EMS back from advancing as a profession. It is not an option to show up to work not fit to work the entire shift, no matter what the reason. People working back to back 12s on 2 hours of sleep continuously are going to be substandard providers, because as you note, humans need sleep. I hate working with someone that just came off a 13 and are coming straight on since I have to pick up their slack.

I sleep when we have nothing to do and are posted, but everyday I come to work expecting that I will not sleep for the next 13 hours and I plan what I do prior to coming on accordingly. Otherwise I am doing a serious disservice to my partner and patients.

What's holding back EMS as a profession is the low pay and crappy working conditions. This is why you have people working around the clock with two or three employers. This is why most people fail to stay in the field more than 7-10 years on average. This is why EMS fails to organize - rather than stay and fight the good fight, many use EMS for what it is, something interesting that has flexible hours and pays the bills, but is not sustainable for the long term. Then they leave for a fire based system, another type of public/civil service job, finish college, or into another field altogether.

Think about it, why is it possible to work for two or three EMS employers at the same time? Because their schedules look like Swiss cheese due to constant turnover.

EMS continues to eat it's young.
 

46Young

Level 25 EMS Wizard
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-who never said anything about DEMANDING a RIGHT to sleep:

when I work nights its not really an issue, I have a pillow to prop against the door panel and lean my head in that little spot between the head-rest and door jam, you know like where the seatbelt is.

days is a little tougher, if Im in a lot somewhere I throw on my shades and try to stay straight so it looks like Im just staring, or I will hold a book/magazine in my hands.

to everyone else: what if OP had asked about a good book to read during downtime, or a good portable DVD player...anyone have a problem with that? "you should not be watching movies on duty!" yeah right.

(disclaimer: we all know the A-holes who gripe and moan when a call comes in whether they are sleeping, or reading, or finishing a tag or whatever...but I dont think we are talking about those people now)

The shades are the oldest trick in the book. When the supervisor knocks on the window, just look up and say "Amen!"
 

dstevens58

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I don't disagree that you should never expect to do anything at work but work. I just take exception to the attitude that if you work nights (or another odd shift) that you need to STFU because it is your fault and your fault alone if you don't get enough sleep.

Why does the conversation degrade itself to this point just because someone expresses their opinion?
 

Aidey

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Re-read my post, I'm not telling anyone to STFU, I'm describing how another person is coming across.
 

akflightmedic

Forum Deputy Chief
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-who never said anything about DEMANDING a RIGHT to sleep

And for those with reading comprehension problems, I never said anyone was "demanding" a right to sleep. I did state several times that showing up with the expectation to sleep is a problem. I also stated we are the only profession I can think of where we go to work with the expectation of being able to sleep. And I even further clarified that I was addressing shifts of 12 hours or less.

So if you can name another job where people prepare for their day or night's work or base their off duty activities around the expectation of getting sleep while on duty, I will shut up.

It is this mentality within our profession that I find extremely distressing.

And do not throw the whole safety nap BS at me, that is a tactic we used many times within the FD. If you cannot work 12 hours in an alert status without the need for sleep because of choices you make in your personal life then we have a problem.

A 12 hour shift is not unreasonable and I would expect my staff to not have wrinkles in their uniforms from laying down or bed head during the day because they cuddled with a pillow on the bench seat.

Reading a book, watching a movie, these are things which keep you alert. Your brain is engaged and can quickly be switched to the task at hand. Waking from sleep, you can/will be in a fog and are a higher risk behind the wheel or rendering patient care than if you were performing the other activities.

Again, read where I said 12 hour shifts or less and no station to report to.
 

Ewok Jerky

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My point is we expect it and are almost demanding of it...as if we are the only ones who work these long shifts and we have earned it. Just sayin...

OP never said anything about an expectation to sleep or being fatigued at work...he simply asked about napping in the rig which you said is "a privilege we get to sneak now and again.

Personally, I would rather bust my *** for twelve hours than sit around because when I get bored I get drowsy...nothing to do with fatigue or being unprepared or unproffessional, everything to do with staring at the back of a starbucks for 6 hours
 

fast65

Doogie Howser FP-C
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The shades are the oldest trick in the book. When the supervisor knocks on the window, just look up and say "Amen!"

Or just poke the supervisor and ask them to stop snoring :p I only saythis because my current partner is my supervisor, and he's snoring in the drivers seat...

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Tagsburton

Forum Ride Along
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We work 2 ten hour days and 2 fourteen hour nights...you get looked down on if you don't try to get some sleep on night shift, even if it's only a half hour.
 

akflightmedic

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OP never said anything about an expectation to sleep or being fatigued at work

You mean starting a thread asking how to sleep on the job and the discussion of bringing a pillow and blanket does not demonstrate an expectation of sleeping on the job?


Man, I must need to repeat Reading Comprehension 101 cause I am the idiot apparently.
 

Aidey

Community Leader Emeritus
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Does it imply an expectation? Or does is it acknowledging that it is a possibility, and it is obviously not uncommon that napping on shift happens.

People may not have time to read, eat or watch DVDs on shift, but they still make threads asking what other people read, eat and watch.
 

Ewok Jerky

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When people find out I work 12 hours in an ambulance they almost invariably ask if I get to sleep, and no one has ever had s negative reaction when I reply that yes I do het to close my eyes sometimes.

Oh and what about shopping on duty, is that ok?
 

Ewok Jerky

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You mean starting a thread asking how to sleep on the job and the discussion of bringing a pillow and blanket does not demonstrate an expectation of sleeping on the job?


Man, I must need to repeat Reading Comprehension 101 cause I am the idiot apparently.

I frequently bring my debit to work with the intent of buying lunch/coffe etc. And it doesn't always happen and and I certainly don't expect it to, but it sure is nice when it works out
 

DrParasite

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Newsflash, the majority of the rest of the world works days. I've worked nights for the last 2 1/2 years. The effort involved in keeping people from calling me*, knocking on my door etc is insane. I sleep during the day. My neighbors do not. The garbage truck does not. UPS does not.
and your point is? I have work nights for the past 3 years at my FT job, after working 5 years on days and nights at my prior job and the occasional day shift at my PT job. I know exactly what you are talking about. I have missed more than my share of UPS delivery guys because I was out cold, and my Dad insist on calling me at 11am, because he "figured you would be up by now." it sucks, but that's the problem with being a night walker in a day walker's world.
I take my sleep seriously. I've threatened my apartment manager with police action, because they did not seem to understand that when I put on maintenance requests not to knock, call or enter my apartment before 3pm that I was dead serious. After a maintenance worker entered my apartment at 0900 with zero warning I told them that if it happened again I would consider it an illegal entry a
nd call the police and report an intruder.
good call. he is lucky you don't live in texas, or you might have shot him.
You might want to tone down the condescension a bit, night shift workers are at the mercy of the people around them who operate on a normal schedule. No matter what you do, shiat happens.
there is no condescension, except toward the people who come to work expecting to be sleeping and get pissed when bossed prevent it. it's a job, if your boss doesn't give you proper sleeping quarters, odds are you shouldn't be sleeping. it's called being a professional.
I can not fathom how hard it would be to maintain such a strict schedule with a spouse and kids. If being a "professional" is worth telling your family to eff off 1/2 of the time, than I suppose it is possible.
it's not easy. and you aren't telling your family to eff off 1/2 of the time, you are telling them you work at night, so you need to sleep. as them how they would react to you calling them at 3am, since you are awake, and "they got a few hours of sleep already." probably wouldn't go over well.
*My phone is set to vibrate, I can't turn it off completely. If my employer calls to mandatory me and I don't respond I get one freebie, after that if I don't call in within 2 hours I get written up. There is zero room to negotiate with them on this.
that sucks. I would find a new job personally, but that's just me. the only time I want to be mandated to come in (and that's with my boss calling me and waking my sleeping *** up) is if there was an MCI, or major incident, and they were recalling all special operations people in, or preparing for a deployment. Otherwise, when I'm off from work, I am off from work. that means all hell can be breaking lose, 20 jobs holding, and I am off the clock and it's not my problem.

Also, if I'm not at my FT job, I might be at my PT job, and it's not like I can leave my PT job to go to my FT job because i was mandated, that's unprofessional, an leaves my PT job in a bind too, since now they have to cover my shift.
Really? You shouldn't eat at work?
and what if you don't have time? you expect to be able to stop at a restaurant, spend an hour at dinner? or maybe cook dinner in the kitchen? Getting a slice of pizza on the way back, or bringing your food in a cooler to eat during your downtime both gets you food, and doesn't interfere with your job.
At the corporate world were you routinely held over a few hours when you only had 12 hours between shifts? Did you have long stretches where you didn't do anything? Then got busy slammed the last two hours of your shift?
are you kidding me? in the corporate world, it's called being "asked" to stay late. scheduled for 9 to 5, getting out of the office at 7 or 9, only be to back at work at 9am. been there, done that, often for no pay if you are a salaried employee.
If you want to sleep, sleep if you have the time. Nothing wrong with that.
Sure, as long as it's ok with your boss, he/she provides you with sleeping quarters, and it doesn't interfere with your job.
What's holding back EMS as a profession is the low pay and crappy working conditions. This is why you have people working around the clock with two or three employers.
because people WILL work for low pay and crappy working conditions, and people accept working around the clock for two or three employers. and if you don't want to, than buh bye, find a new job, because before you are out the door, the agency will have a dozen people applying to take your job.
So if you can name another job where people prepare for their day or night's work or base their off duty activities around the expectation of getting sleep while on duty, I will shut up.
fire departments, which work 24 hour shifts. and doctors, who have on call rooms where staff are permitted to sleep. but they also have beds, and are given sleeping quarters by their management.
Why does the conversation degrade itself to this point just because someone expresses their opinion?
because anyone who disagrees with him is wrong. I have nothing wrong with someone disagreeing with me, I have a problem with someone disagreeing with me because they want to do something unprofessional that hold back my career from being seen as a profession.

If the company has rules against sleeping, than you shouldn't sleep. if sleeping delays your response to an assignment, than you shouldn't sleep. if the company doesn't provide you with sleeping quarters, than you shouldn't sleep. if you walk into work expecting to sleep instead of doing work, and if any of the previous three conditions apply, than you should consider another line of work.
 

DrParasite

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Oh and what about shopping on duty, is that ok?
depends. if your grandmother was having a heart attack, and when the crew brought her into the ambulance, you had bags from toys R us, WalMart, the local supermarket, or the local electronics store what would your reaction be?

what would the reaction be when the medics needed to climb over your stuff to get in and do their job?

does shopping delay you from doing your job? like, are you in the back of WalMart shopping, and it's gonna take you 5 minutes just to get out of the store to answer a 911 job?

and lets take it to the extreme, if it's ok to shop at walmart, can you shop at a sex shop? it's not illegal now is it? park the truck out front, run in and get a new movie or toy. would you have a problem with that?
 

akflightmedic

Forum Deputy Chief
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I frequently bring my debit to work with the intent of buying lunch/coffe etc. And it doesn't always happen and and I certainly don't expect it to, but it sure is nice when it works out

Wow, your comprehension is horrendous.

If you bring your debit card, then you have the expectation.

If you bring a pillow/blanket, then you have an expectation.

Neither may happen, we agree on that. The point is coming to work with the expectation of buying food or drinks is normal. Coming to work with the expectation of sleeping or conducting off duty activities with the expectation of sleep is not.

You are comparing apples to oranges here.
 

DV_EMT

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and lets take it to the extreme, if it's ok to shop at walmart, can you shop at a sex shop? it's not illegal now is it? park the truck out front, run in and get a new movie or toy. would you have a problem with that?



***awkward unusual silence*** :p
 
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