EMS Concern- Falling Asleep at the Wheel

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PRESQUE ISLE, ME. (WAGM)- --The Emergency Medical Services industry is trusted to save lives, but all of that can change in the blink of an eye.

"If you feel that way stop. It's not worth you getting hurt over and causing somebody else to get hurt," said Caribou Fire Chief Scott Susi.

The third sleep related crash with an ambulance was reported on Friday, August 4th.

"The driver literally just fell asleep and swerved off and hit a telephone pole in the Monticello area," said Susi.

Drowsy driving is dangerous and could be compared to driving while under the influence.

"The consequences of drowsy driving or insufficient sleep while driving they can be pretty catastrophic," said Family Nurse Practitioner Carrissa Hankins.

Drowsy driving accidents often occur with EMT's after a long shift.

"In all of the accidents have been the same, the drivers aren't doing it with the patients on board because your adrenaline is going, they're having an accident on the way back," said Susi.

Caribou's ambulances often travel to Eastern and Maine Medical Center in Bangor and Portland, averaging between an 8 and 12 hour drive that often start in the afternoon through early morning.

"The longer you are awake, the higher your sleep deprivation becomes, and the higher your sleep deprivation becomes the higher the pressure to go into sleep so if you have a really high sleep deprivation, your brain is going to start stealing sleep from you," said Hankins.

But, Chief Susi makes sure his crew is aware of the dangers of driving while drowsy.

"We do talk about if you're on the road and you get tired it's ultimately the drivers responsibility but if you get tired, you're not going to be put down because you had to stop and get out and walk around, we encourage them I mean we take of- get snacks, get coffee, get caffeine," said Susi.

"Be smart about your driving, you don't need to power through, or man up. Because eventually sleep is going to overtake you, said Hankins.

There are many underlying causes of sleepiness, fatigue and drowsy driving, but ultimately listen to your body. stay alert, and arrive alive.